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COPYRIGHT,' 1904, 

Norwood Press 

J. S. Gushing & Co. Berwick & Smith Co. 
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A. 


THE original edition of my work was submitted to the judg- 
ment of the public without preface, for I must agree with the 
view of Thomas Hughes, that a preface is unnecessary if an 
author is content to have his aim read in what he has written. 

I do not depart from this view now in desiring to acknowledge 
the very kindly appreciation accorded to the first edition by the 
representative critics of the press and by the public, and my 
particular indebtedness to the many friends who have taken 
pains to furnish me with desired information and valuable 

I may further note simply that the edition now offered has 
been thoroughly revised, enlarged, and brought up to date, with 
the addition of a number of new and interesting illustrations. 



9628 / 





Physical Characteristics of the Diamond. The Early History of 
Diamonds. Mining in India. Golconda. Romance of Noted 


The Search for an All-sea Route to India. The Queen of Sheba. 
King Solomon's Mines. Phoenicians sail around Africa, 600 B.C. 
Bartholomeu Dias sets Crosses at Angra Pequena and Algoa Bay, 
A.D. 1486. Da Gama's Voyage. Encounters with Natives. 
The Mines of Ophir. The Ancient Ruins of Mashonaland. 
English and Dutch East India Companies. The Landing of Johan 
van Riebeeck. The Settlement of the Cape by the Dutch. The 
Search for the Land of Ophir by the Early Cape Settlers. Com- 
mander Simon van der Stel. Discovery of Copper in Namaqua- 
land. The British enter Table Bay and take Possession of Cape 


Cape Colony. The Dutch Settlers. Emancipation of the Slaves. 

The Great Trek of the Dutch to the Interior. The Zulus. 
Chaka. The Matabele. Tribal Wars. The Clash between the 
Boers and the Matabele. Boers and Zulus. The South African 
Republic. The Orange Free State. 

IV. THE DISCOVERY . . . . . . . .114 

The First South African Diamond. Its Journey to Grahamstown. 
Its Determination. " The Star of South Africa." The Mission 
Stations. The First Mining on the Vaal River. The Influx of 
Fortune-hunters. The Natives as Labourers. Obstacles, Priva- 
tions, and Discomforts at the River Diggings. The Great Karroo. 
The Mirages. The Journey to the Fields. Game along the 
Route. Klip-drift and Pniel. 




V. THE CAMPS ON THE VAAL . . . . . . .140 

Method of mining Diamonds in Brazil. Early Mining at Klip- 
drift and Pniel. Camp Life on the River. The Climate. Title 
to the Land along the River. Claims of the South African Repub- 
lic and the Orange Free State. The Diggers' Republic. 

VI. THE RUSH TO KIMBERLEY . . . . . . .164 

Discovery of Jagersfontein Mine, August, 1870. Diamonds found 

at Dutoitspan, September, 1870. The Competition for Posses- 
sion of the Farm Dorstfontein. Original Occupation of Farms. 
Discovery of Bultfontein Mine early in 1871. De Beers Mine 
discovered, May, 1871. Kimberley Mine discovered, July, 1871, 
by Fleetvvood Ravvstorne. Native Ownership of Country trans- 
ferred to Great Britain. Arbitration re Ownership. The Procla- 
mation of District as the ' Crown Colony of Griqualand West." 
Stephen J. Paul Kruger. Lieutenant-Governor Mr. Richard 
Southey. Methods of reaching the Fields. The Rush of Whites 
and Blacks to the New Golconda. 

VII. THE GREAT WHITE CAMPS. . . . . . .190 

The City of the Pan. Early Life in Kimberley. The London 

and South African Exploration Company. Area covered by the 
Four Mines. Method of working Kimberley Mine. The Bottom 
of the Yellow Ground is reached. The Blue Ground. Charac- 
teristics of Diamonds in Each Mine. Cost of Supplies. The 
Market. The Climate. The Marvellous Collection of Savages. 

VIII. OPENING THE CRATERS . . . . . . .220 

Areas of the Open Mine Surfaces in 1888. The Progress of 
Mining. Hauling Ground in Raw-hide Buckets by Means of 
Windlasses. The First Whim. The Introduction of Aerial 
Gears and Trucks. The Falls of Reef into the Open Mines. 
The Flooding of the Mines, May, 1874. Shafts sunk in the 
Open Mine (Kimberley). Shafts sunk outside the Areas of the 
Mines. The Extraction of Diamonds from the Yellow and Blue 
Ground. Hand Machines. Horse-power Machines. Steam 
Washing Gears. Diamond Stealing and Illicit Diamond Buying. 


Barney Barnato. Cecil John Rhodes. The Race for Supremacy 
De Beers versus Kimberley Mine. The Combinations of 
Claims. Rhodes' Plans for acquiring Territory in the Interior of 
Africa. How Amalgamation of the Mines was brought about. 
Mr. Alfred Beit joins Rhodes. 




The Formation of De Beers Consolidated Mines, Limited. The 
Cost of Properties. The Improved Output of Diamond-bearing 
Ground. The Reconstruction of the Company, 1901. 


Failure of First Methods of Underground Mining. The Various 
Systems. Incline Shafts. Vertical Shafts. The Present System 
of Mining. Winding Shafts. Skips. Record Hoisting. Drain- 
ing. Lighting the Mines. Electrical Equipment. Temperatures 
Underground. Output of Blue Ground, Labor and Wages. 
Dutoitspan and Bultfontein Mines. Premier Mine. Jagersfontein 
Mine. (See Appendix IX for description of new mines.) 




The Koh-i-nur (Old Cutting) i 

Diamonds Photographed with the Roentgen Rays. I . A Black Diamond in 

Gold Setting. 2. Ordinary Window Glass. 3. A Pink Diamond . 2 

The Shah 3 

The Egyptian Pascha ......... 4 

The Polar Star 8 

The Hope Blue 8 

The Empress Eugenie . . . . . . . . .15 

The Nassak 1 6 

The Great Mogul 17 

The Sancy . . . . . . . . . . .25 

The Koh-i-nur (Present Cutting) . . . . . . .27 

The Orloff 28 

The Regent ........... 29 

The Florentine .......... 30 

The Piggott ........... 30 

The Star of the South ......... 30 

Cube Diamond . . . . . . . . . .31 

Dutch Ships of the Seventeenth Century . . . . .41, 42, 43 

Dutch Ships of the Eighteenth Century ..... 40, 44, 45 

Insiza Ruins .......... 48, 49, 50 

Khami Ruins 51, 52, 53, 54 

Gold Ornaments found in Ancient Ruins . . . . . .52 

Zimbabwe Ruins 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60 

The Old East India House, Leadenhall Street, London . . . .61 

The Landing of Van Riebeeck . . . . . . . .62 

Portrait of Johan Antonyse van Riebeeck . . . . . .63 

Portrait of Maria de la Querellerie . . . . . . .63 

Wine Cellar, Groot Constantia ........ 64 

Vergelegen ........... 69 

Boschendal 71, 72 

Entrance to Boschendal . . . . . . . . .72 

Botanic Gardens . . . . . . . . . 73 




Lekkerwijn ........... 74 

Bien Donne, Drakenstein ........ 75 7^ 

Overmantel and Old Dutch Relics . . . . . . -75 

Farm House, Klein Drakenstein . . . . . . . -77 

Palmeit Vallei 77, 80 

A Wine Farm at Klein Drakenstein . . . . . . .78 

Dutch Farm House .......... 79 

Muller's Farm, Achter Paarl 78, 79, 80 

Mooi Kelder, Lower Paarl . . . . . . . .81 

Plaisis de Merle, Groot Drakenstein . . . . . . .81 

Donkerhoek, Groot Drakenstein . . . . . . . .82 

A Wine Cellar. Herd of Cape Goats . . . . . .82 

Tatr, 1757 83 

An Old Farm House, Lower Paarl ....... 84 

Farm House, Achter Paarl ........ 84 

Brand Solder 85 

Cape Cart . . . . 85, 276 

The Gate of the Castle 86 

Fort Good Hope .......... 86 

Zulu Chief Cetawayo and Part of his Family ..... 92 

Zulu Prince Dinizulu ......... 93 

Zulu Family ........... 93 

A Zulu and his Ten Wives ........ 94 

Zulu Kraal and Huts . . . . . . . . -95 

Zulu Hut in course of Construction ....... 96 

Zulu Woman grinding Corn ........ 97 

Zulu Women .......... 98 

Zulus smoking Indian Hemp ........ 99 

Old Zulu Women taking Kafir Beer to a Wedding .... 99 

Zulu Girls 100 

Native Laborers in War Dress . . . . . . . . IOI 

Trekbok (Springbok) Hunting . . . . . . . .102 

Zulu in War Dress . . . . . . . . . .103 

Zulu Jim Cameel . . . . . . . . .105 

A Zulu Laborer in War Attire . . . . . . . .108 

Nest of Social Grosbeak . . . . . . . . .112 

Native Carvings ......... 112-113 

Moshesh . . I 1 3 

John O' Reilly 1 20 

Mr. Lorenzo Boyes . . . . . . . . .121 

Dr. W. Guybon Atherstone 121 


Pniel Diggings 139 

Delport's Hope, Vaal River Diggings . . . . . . .142 

Diggers' Camps on the Vaal River . . . . . . .143 

River Diggings at Gong Gong, 1880 . . . . . . .147 

Vaal River Diggings . . . . . . . . .149 

River Diggings, Waldek's Plant 151 

Pniel Diggings, Vaal River . . . . . . . .152 

Klip-drift, Early River Diggings 152 

Gong Gong . . . . . . . . . . r 5 3 

Washing Diamond Gravel by Machinery at Gong Gong, 1880 . . 155 

Lightning at Kimberley . . . . . . . . .156 

Day View, Same Scene . . . . . . . . .156 

Largest River Diamond ever found in South Africa. . . . .158 

Views of Klip-drift . .162 

Klip- drift from Pniel, showing the Ferry .... between 162-163 

A Digger's Camp, New Rush ...... between 168169 

Main Street, New Rush, January, 1872 .... between 168-169 

Kimberley, 1872 . . . . . . . . .169 

Mrs. Ravvstorne . . . . . . . . . .173 

Mr. T. B. Kisch . . . 174 

Kimberley Mine just after the Discovery, July, 1871 . . . 175, 176 
Fleetwood Rawstorne . . . . . . . . .177 

Native Chiefs . . . . . . . . . .179 

The First Government House of the Colony of Griqualand West . .180 
Sir Richard Southey's Residence, Kimberley. . . . . .181 

Stephen J. Paul Kruger . . . . . . . . .185 

Coach leaving Kimberley for the Coast, 1875 . . . . .187 

Kimberley, before the Discovery of Diamonds . . . . . 1 90 

Dutoitspan . . . 191, 192 

Kimberley, 1873 J 93 

Around Kimberley Mine, 1872 . . . . . . 194-195 

Kimberley Mine, 1872 197, 203, 205 

Beginning of Staging, Colesberg Kopje, August, 1872 . . between 198-199 

Back View from North Stagings, Colesberg Kopje . . between 198-199 

Centre Block, Kimberley Mine, 1873 . . . . . 200 

The Roadways, Kimberley Mine, 1871-1872 202 

Roads in Kimberley Mine, 1871-1872 204,207 

Market Square, Kimberley . . . . . . .211, 212 

Natives resting, on their Way to the Mines . . . . . .217 

Herbert Rhodes 219 

The Breaking up of the Roads, Kimberley Mine, 1872 . . . .221 



Miners going to Work ......... 222 

Interior of" Old De Beers Mine, 1873 ... between 222-223 

The Hand Drums used for Winding-up the Blue Ground . . .223 

De Beers Mine, 1874 . . . . . . .223 

Kimberley Mine, 1873 ......... 224 

Interior of Mine with Tramway, Colesberg Kopje, September, 1873 

between 224-225 

View from Bottom of Kimberley Mine, September, 1873 . between 224225 

Kimberley Mine, 1874 . . . . . . . . .225 

Kimberley Mine, 1875 ......... 225 

Natives carrying Ground out of Dutoitspan in Buckets .... 226 

Back View of the Staging with Grooved Wheels, at Kimberley . . .226 
Kimberley Mine, 1875 . . . . . . . . 227 

Snow in Kimberley Mine, June 21, 1876 ...... 228 

Method of Hauling, De Beers Mine, 1873 ...... 228 

The First Horse Whim, Kimberley Mine, 1874 ..... 229 

Hauling Gear and Jumpers, Kimberley Mine, 1878 . . . .229 

A Nook in Kimberley Mine, 1874 ....... 230 

A Section of De Beers Mine, 1874 ..... between 230231 

The Horse Whims, Kimberley Mine, 1875 . . . . . .231 

Hauling Gear, Dutoitspan Mine, 1876 . .... 232 

Surface Loading Boxes . . . . . . . . .233 

Aerial Trams and Surface Chutes, De Beers Mine, 1885 . . .233 

Hauling Gear, Kimberley Mine, 1885 ...... 234 

The French Company's Sling Gear, 1885. . . . . .235 

Loading Tubs at Bottom of Kimberley Mine, 1885 .... 236 

The Standard Company's Claim, Bottom of Kimberley Mine, 1885 . . 237 
Bottom of Dutoitspan Mine Open Workings. . . . . .238 

Pumping Engine in Kimberley Mine, 1875 ...... 239 

Incline Tramway for Hauling Reef, 1878 ...... 240 

Hauling Reef, Kimberley Mine, 1875 ...... 241 

Reef Falls, Kimberley Mine, 1881 . . . . . . . 242 

Steam Pumping Engine, De Beers Mine, 1879 ..... 243 

The Central Company's Shaft, Kimberley Mine, 1885 .... 244 

The Bottom of Kimberley Mine, 1885 ...... 245 

Plan of Kimberley Mine, 1883. . . . . . . . 246 

Reef Slips, Kimberley Mine, 1874 ....... 247 

Kimberley Mine, showing how the Ground cracked before Subsidence . 247 

The Central Company's Atkins Shaft ....... 248 

The Last of Open Working, Kimberley Mine, 1889 . 249 

R. D. Atkins . . . . . . . . . .250 



No. 2 Incline Shaft, De Beers Mine . . . . . . .251 

Eldorado Road, Dutoitspan Mine, 1874 . . . . . .251 

Claims in Dutoitspan Mine . . . . . . . .252 

Bultfontein Mine, 1879 ......... 253 

The First Rotary Washing Machine . . . . . . .254 

Another Early Washing Machine, 1874 . . . . . -255 

Horse-power Washing Machine, 1875 . . . . . .255 

Early Horse-power Washing Machine, 1874 ..... 256 

The First Washing Machine with Elevator to carry away the Tailings . 257 

Washing Gear, Bultfontein Mine . . . . . . .258 

Steam Washing Gear, Kimberley Mine . . . . . .259 

Webb's Washing Machine, 1878 ....... 260 

Cape of Good Hope Company's Washing Gear, 1878 .... 261 

Washing Gear, Dutoitspan Mine ....... 262 

Washing Gear, Bultfontein Mine, 1878 ...... 263 

Mr. Barney Barnato ......... 268 

C. J. Rhodes, when a Student at Oxford ...... 272 

Sorting the Ground for Diamonds ..... between 274275 

J. Dick-Lauder's Camp, 1872 . . . . . . between 274275 

Silver Trees ........... 275 

Mr. C. D. Rudd 279 

Mr. Robert English . . . . . . . . .279 

Plan of Kimberley Mine, 1882 282 

House of Parliament, Cape Town . . . . . . .284 

Avenue of Oaks, Cape Town . . . . . . . .285 

Mr. Carl Meyer 287 

Mr. Alfred Beit 289 

The Diamond Market, Kimberley, 1875 . 2 9 
The Right Honorable Cecil John Rhodes, and Alfred Beit, Esq., October, 

1901 ........... 292 

Fac-simile of Cheque given in Payment for Kimberley Mine . . . 295 
A De Beers Group .......... 300 

Group of Life Governors, Directors, General Manager, and Secretary, 

De Beers Mine ......... 303 

Mr. E. R. Tymms .306 

The Last of Open Mining, Kimberley Mine ..... 308 

Plan of De Beers Mine ....... 309, 316, 318 

Section through De Beers Mine . . -. . . . . 3 1 o, 3 1 1 

Plan of Kimberley Mine . . . . . . . . .312 

Kimberley Open Mine, looking South, January, 1 904 . . between 3 1 23 1 3 

Kimberley Open Mine, looking South, January, 1904 . . between 312-313 



Section of Kimberley Mine . . . . . . . 3 1 3 

Kimberley Open Mine, looking South, January, 1904 . . between 314-315 
Bottom of Kimberley Mine, January, 1904 . . . between 314-315 

Sketch of Premier Mine . 318 

Stoping ... . . .. 319, 320 

Timbering Tunnels . . . . . . .321, 322 

Natives drilling, De Beers Mine . . . . . . . .322 

Details of Sets for Rock Shaft 323 

A Shaft Station . . . . . . . . . .324 

Loading the Trucks . . . . . . . . . 3 2 5 

Loading Chutes for Rock Shaft . . . . . . . .326 

Plan of Skip for Six Loads . . . . . . . .327 

Main Shaft, Kimberiey Mine . 328 

The Rock Shaft, De Beers Mine 329 

Vertical Tandem Compound-condensing Winding Engines . . 330* 33 1 
Winding Engine, Kimberley Mine . . . . . . .332 

Mr. Louis I. Seymour . . . . . . . . .332 

Plan of Bultfontein Mine . . . . . . . . -333 

Dutoitspan Open Mine Flooded, April, 1903 . . . between 334-335 
Kimberley Open Mine, looking North, January, 1904 . . between 338339 
Mount Ararat before Blasting ........ 342 

Dutoitspan Mine, 1885 . . . . . . . between 242243 

Shots fired ........... 343 

A Second after Firing . . . . . . . . .344 

The Mine filled with Smoke ........ 345 

After the Smoke has cleared away . . . . . . .346 

Premier Mine, Open Workings ........ 348 

Premier Mine Shaft ........ between 348-349 

Premier Mine ........ 350, 351, 353 

Premier Mine, 1903 . . . . . . . between 354355 

One of the Early Washing Machines . . . . . . .354 

Washing Plant, Standard Company, Kimberley Mine, 1888 . . . 355 

No. I Washing Plant, De Beers Floors . . . . . .356 

No. 2 Washing Plant, De Beers Floors ..... 357, 370 

Excelsior Diamond . . . . . . . . 35 8, 359 

Plan and Section, Jagersfontein Mine ..... between 358359 




Waldseemuller's Map of Africa, A.D. 1507 . 

Visscher's Map of Africa, 1662, reproduced by Blaeuw 

Visscher's Map of Africa, published A.D. 1662 

Blaeuw's Map of Africa, published 1665 

Outline Copy of the Catalan Mappermonde, 1375 

Outline Copy of the Map of Portolano Laurenziano, 1351 

Edrisi's Map, A.D. 1154 

Andrea Bianco' s Map, A.D. 1436, Venice . 

Africa de Mappermonde, Juan de la Cosa, I 500 

Chart showing Method of Surveying Coast Lines . 

Map showing Position of Ancient Ruins in Rhodesia . 

Kimberley Mine, 1877 . 

General Plan of the Diamond Mines owned by De Beers 


between 3233, 

between 3435 

. 38 

between 3839 
between 38-39 

. . 46 


between 276277 
between 316-317 


Portrait of Gardner F. Williams ..... 

Farmhouse on the Farm Groot Constantia, near Cape Town 

La Rhone, Groot Drakenstein ) 

Old Le Roux . . ) 

A View from the Kloof Road leading from the Upper Part of Cape Town . 

Zulu in War Attire 

The Homestead of the Farm Vooruitzigt on which are De Beers and Kim- 
berley Mines .......... 

Portrait of Sir Richard Southey ........ 

Natives seeking Work ......... 

Kimberley Mine, 1872.. . . . . . 

Kimberley Mine flooded, May, 1874 

Kimberley Mine, 1886 ......... 

Bultfontein Mine, 1878 ......... 

Portrait of Cecil John Rhodes ........ 

Barnato's Turnout .......... 

A Group of De Beers Directors, etc. , etc. ...... 

Premier Mine, looking from Workings up through Incline where the Blue 
Ground is hauled ......... 

Premier Mine 


. 64 




1 80 






The Diamond Mines of South Africa 

.<. i 


[T the beginning of the last century, w! 
blinded Shah-Shuja sought refuge in f 
of the " Lion of the Punjaub," Runjec 
his chief treasure was the crystal r<- 
Nadir Shah had snatched from the 
last of the Great Moguls. 
For the sake of the pebble, Runjeet starved r and 

children of his friend until he was driven to <h-i-nur 

at the feet of his host. " At what 
price do you value it ? " said the 
Lion, showing his teeth in a grim 

"At good luck," replied the 
blind Shah, "for it has eve. 
the bosom companion of him v 
numphed over his eneni 
It may have been the tradi- 
tional talisman of Carna, Rajah We!ght before 
of Anga, fighting in legendary ^-sght^er first cutting, i86t canus ; 

present weight, 106 carats. 

wars, hundreds of years before the great Achilles st 
sulked under the walls of Troy. 1 
appearance it had been so coveted 

Indian History," J. Talboys 

the government of India in the Foreign Departmei 
Great Diamonds of the World," Edwin W. Streeter. 



The Diamond Mines of South Africa 



T the beginning of the last century, when the 
blinded Shah-Shuja sought refuge in the lair 
of the " Lion of the Punjaub," Runjeet Singh, 
his chief treasure was the crystal pebble which 
Nadir Shah had snatched from the head of the 
last of the Great Moguls. 
For the sake of the pebble, Runjeet starved the wife and 
children of his friend until he was driven to lay the Koh-i-nur 
at the feet of his host. " At what 
price do you value it ? " said the 
Lion, showing his teeth in a grim 

"At good luck," replied the 
blind Shah, " for it has ever been 
the bosom companion of him who 
has triumphed over his enemies." 

It may have been the tradi- 
tional talisman of Carna, Rajah 
of Anga, fighting in legendary The Koh-i-nfir. (Old Cutting.) 

wars, hundreds of years before the great Achilles stormed and 
sulked under the walls of Troy. 1 From its earliest known 
appearance it had been so coveted that agas and sultans and 

1 "Tales from Indian History," ]. Talboys Wheeler, assistant secretary of 
the government of India in the Foreign Department, Calcutta, 1 88 1 ; "The 
Great Diamonds of the World," Edwin W. Streeter. 



rajahs and shahs had snatched it in the first spoils of victory, 
or tried to extort it by starvation or blinding or boiling oil or 
some other device of torture ; and the adventurous and blood- 
stained career of this famous diamond is only one of many like 

passages, for every precious 
stone of renown has a trail 
like a meteor. Some have 
gleamed weirdly in the eye- 
sockets of idols in Indian 
temples or flashed from 
the splendid thrones of 
emperors, or glittered in 
golden basins amid gems 
of every hue heaped up in 
tribute, or sparkled on the 
crests of warriors, the tur- 
bans of rajahs, the breasts 
of begums, and the san- 
dals of courtesans. To 
win them temples have been profaned, palaces looted, thrones 
torn to fragments, princes tortured, women strangled, guests 
poisoned by their hosts, and slaves disembowelled. Some have 
fallen on battlefields, to be picked up by ignorant freebooters 
and sold for a few silver coins, and others have been cast into 
ditches by thieves or swallowed by guards, or sunk in ship- 
wrecks, or broken to powder in moments of frenzy. No strain 
of fancy in an Arabian tale has outstripped the marvels of fact 
in the diamond's history. 

Among all the stones that our world's fancy holds precious, 
the diamond stands preeminent. It is pure crystallized carbon. 
It crystallizes in almost all the forms of the isometric system, 
commonly the octahedral or dodecahedral, and frequently with 
curved faces. 1 Two pyramids with triangular sides and a 

i. A Black Diamond in Gold Setting. 2. Ordinary 
Window Glass. 3. A Pink Diamond. (Photo- 
graphed with the Roentgen Rays.) 

1 The South African diamonds differ in appearance from those found in India 
or Brazil. They are brighter, and for the most part without any incrustation, and 


common base make uj ahedron. The dodecahedron has 

twelve rhombs or natur lozenge shape. 

It is the most impel 
edge of one of its 
or the hardest steel. 1 
It refracts entering ray: 
stance except crocoite, 

tints, but it 
persion are 

t all known substances, for the 
itch the face of any other stone 
most perfect reflector of light. 
ian any other translucent sub- 
Chrysolite alone 
:ht into rainbow 
ion, and dis- 
color in its 

crystalline hearr flashing int fire. 

It may be a and col lew, or 

.iry colors, such as red, ow, 

; so that, as John Mandeville qua; 
. to take pleasure in assuming in turn the i. 
to other ger It is highly phosphorescent. Even the 

of diamonds are transparent to the X-rays. No acid will 
no solvent will dissolve it. Its brilliance is undecaying, a 
might roll by without rubbing the minutest partic! 
mantine face. The diamond that gleamed fire 

in an idol's eye before the rising of the be 

sparkling to-day with more dazzling 
radiance in the crown of an emperor. 
Koh-i-nur and Darya-i-nur and 
e-mah and Regent and OrlofV 

.nd Shah will shine n< 
cm shall be 

Present weight, 05 carats. 

any, are visible in their natura 
Dufrc / 



in tne nr-> spons of victory, 
MI or blinding or boiling oil or 
and the adventurous and blood- 
Lliamond s only one of many like 
passages, for every precious 
stone of renown has a trail 
like a meteor. Some have 
gleamed weirdly in the eye- 
sockets of idols in Indian 
temples or flashed from 
rhe splendid thrones of 
iprrors, or glittered in 
basins amid gems 
Hie heaped up in 
sparkled on the 
vrtors, the tur- 
b;i> jhs, rhv? breasts 

lit VK! the san- 

dals -urte-sans. To 

led, pahucs looted, throi\es 
, women strangled, guests 
isembowe'led. Some have 
Lip S> iancrant freebooters 
nthi"^ nav? been cast into 
euar,,L, nr sunk in ship- 
No strain 
,. ,: -he marvels ot fact 

. holds precious, 

* "fallr/ed carbon. 

I the isometric system, 

ai, :iru{ frequently with 

lanLrula" sides and a 

ci- tier.: :li',~e fnunci ii* India 
vviihi ': ;un r incTii^riii(^n, and 

i a ?, a v * n u 


common base make up the octahedron. The dodecahedron has 
twelve rhombs or natural facets of lozenge shape. 

It is the most impenetrable of all known substances, for the 
edge of one of its facets will scratch the face of any other stone 
or the hardest steel. It is the most perfect reflector of light. 
It refracts entering rays more than any other translucent sub- 
stance except crocoite, the chromate of lead. 1 Chrysolite alone 
exceeds its dispersive power to dissolve white light into rainbow 
tints, but its combined powers of reflection, refraction, and dis- 
persion are unmatched. 2 Hence appears the play of color in its 
crystalline heart and the resplendent flashing of its radiant fire. 
It may be as purely transparent and colorless as a drop of dew, or 
it may display all the primary colors, such as red, orange, yellow, 
blue, and violet; so that, as John Mandeville quaintly observed, 
" It seems to take pleasure in assuming in turn the colors proper 
to other gems." It is highly phosphorescent. Even the blackest 
of diamonds are transparent to the X-rays. No acid will mar it, 
no solvent will dissolve it. Its brilliance is undecaying, and ages 
might roll by without rubbing the minutest particle from its ada- 
mantine face. The diamond that gleamed with such strange fire 
in an idol's eye before the rising of the Star of Bethlehem may be 
sparkling to-day with more dazzling 
radiance in the crown of an emperor. 
Koh-i-nur and Darya-i-nur and Taj- 
e-mah and Regent and Orloff and 
Sancy and Shah will shine no less re- 
splendent when the sovereigns that 
now treasure them shall be dust. The shah. 

the imperfections, if any, are visible in their natural state. See note, p. 3 1 , in 
reference to cube diamonds. 

l " Table of Indices of Refraction," Dufrenoy, p. 87. "Treatise on Gems," 
Feuchtwanger, New York, 1867. 

2 " Table of the Distinguishing Characteristics of Gems," Feuchtwanger, 
pp. 494499. "Optical Properties of the Diamond," Sir David Brewster, 
Phil. Trans., VIII, 157, 1817. 

3 ' Le Grand Lapidaire," Paris, 1561. 


" With the point of a diamond," Jeremiah (B.C. 600) says, 1 
records were graven when stones were writing-tablets ; but, 
unfortunately for our knowledge, the diamond did not tell its 
own story ; and it is, at best, a groping effort that would search 
out the rising of this gem through the mists of tradition. 

" Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God ; every 
precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the 
diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, 
the emerald, and the carbuncle. Thou wast upon the holy 
mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst 
of the stones of fire." 2 

How glowing are the words of the Prophet of the Captivity, 
declaring the vainglory forerunning the doom of Tyre's princes 

and people (588 B.C.). Did the three 
rivers of Eden flow through sands glit- 
tering with stones of fire ? Did the eating 
of a little green apple from the tree of 
knowledge open the eyes of the first 
woman of earth to the lure of the gems 
that are now so tempting to every daugh- 
ter of Eve ? If not, how long was it 

The Egyptian Pascha. before ^ ^^ ^ t fo Diamond, the 

emerald and the ruby and the sapphire were added to the fig- 
leaf covering of our first parents ? 

Multicycles of refining are needed for a clear perception of 
beauty. The aboriginal Adams and Eves did not have it. The 
children of the twentieth century will open their eyes to its 
light more quickly than those of the Stone Age, because the 
children of to-day inherit the quickened sense of unnumbered 
generations, and are taught to trace the range of beauty in 
nature and art. Prehistoric man, a weakling in perception, 
turned his eyes to the grand orb of the sun, rising above the 
horizon and flooding the earth with its rays, to the pale bow 

1 Jeremiah xvii. 

2 Ezekiel xxviii. 13 and 14 (588 B.C.). Babylonian captivity of the Jews 
(588-537 B.C.). 


of the moon and the ng of the firmament of stars, 

the ceaseless surge of tb n and the mountain sumi 

wreathed in clouds,- 
of nature, before h 
the petty circle 
animal wants 
by before the s;i 
ing pebbles 
and the f 
Any o; 

grander aspects and moti 
drawn to lesser things outside 
and the sating of his crude 
TS of brutal life rolled 
one of the gleam- 
^ith bounding foot 
r's bank. 

as another's, 

what lir or 


idoubtedly found on the fa 
arisome digging or quarrying, as they 
ing in the gravel, washed from hillsides over th 
the courses of rivers swelled by floods and 
ings of the earth's crust to the sea. Thou 
garnets, jasper, amethysts, sapphires, rubi 
were picked up, maybe by children rummag 
or the clefts of rocks, and thrown away a 
of flint, before one was preserved and pri. 

Is were much easier to collect anci 
and rude armlets and leg-bands of * 
were easily forged, and more to th 
of stones. 1 

When some of the j: stones v 

: r beds , of gra 

owers attrib 
hardness, ar 


>V:-h -he pu:nt of a diamond," Jeremiah 'B.C. 600) says, 1 

ds *cre Craven '\hen stones wen: writing-tablets; but, 

tunareiy tor our knowledge, the diamond did not tell its 

and ir is, at best, a groping erFo 1 'at would search 

,'K- r'->ma of this sein through the mist--, oi tradition. 

1'ho-.; hast b>-en in Kden, riv ;natn of God; every 

us siont WHS thy covering tiie s, topaz, and the 

>ri(i, rhc be^-vl, the onyx, and :h<* Kipper, the sapphire, 

niotuid. uivl :iu caibuncle. Thyu wast upon the holy 

itair; of f .(.-' ; Hiou hast wulkcti u and down in the midst 

word- <>.- Prophet of rhe Captivity, 

:orerunnm-j _ doom of Tyre's princes 

H.r.i. Did the three 

, of h- -'--ugh sands glit- 

Did the eating 

"'n the tree of 

of the first 

, .'man of r.iith i :e t>t the gems 

hat .i;v iH>u, - reruj^ :> J t' 1 everv dau^h- 

LI;W long was it 
'\<A.'. ' the iiamond, the 
Irtlfcg were :idded to the fig- 

td fnr a clear perception of 

; I <es did not have it. The 

their eyes to its 

\!j;e, because the 

ot unnumbered 

;hc range of beauty in 

i in perception, 

'he sun, rising above the 

ir'h "h its r.iys, to the pale bow 

of the Jews 


of the moon and the sparkling of the firmament of stars, to 
the ceaseless surge of the ocean and the mountain summits 
wreathed in clouds, to all the grander aspects and motions 
of nature, before his eyes were drawn to lesser things outside 
the petty circle of his rambling and the sating of his crude 
animal wants. Mayhap thousands of years of brutal life rolled 
by before the savage stooped to pick up any one of the gleam- 
ing pebbles which the fierce tiger spurned with bounding foot 
and the flying deer trampled heedlessly on the river's bank. 

Any one may guess, and any one's guess is as good as another's, 
what little pebble first drew the glance of the barbarian's eye or 
the stoop of the rover's knee. The first-known precious stones 
of the world were undoubtedly found on the face of the ground, 
without any wearisome digging or quarrying, as they lay shin- 
ing in the gravel, washed from hillsides over the plains, or along 
the courses of rivers swelled by floods and sweeping the par- 
ings of the earth's crust to the sea. Thousands of carnelians, 
garnets, jasper, amethysts, sapphires, rubies, and diamonds 
were picked up, maybe by children rummaging in gravel beds 
or the clefts of rocks, and thrown away as carelessly as splinters 
of flint, before one was preserved and prized. White and tinted 
shells were much easier to collect and pierce and link together, 
and rude armlets and leg-bands of copper and silver and gold 
were easily forged, and more to the savage taste than any neck- 
lace of stones. 1 

When some of the precious stones were lifted and borne 
away from their beds in drifts of gravel, they were valued first 
chiefly for the mystic powers attributed to pebbles of such rich 
hues, phenomenal hardness, and peculiar lustre. One of them 
would be worn in a pouch next to the bosom as an amulet or 
charm, averting peril, inspiring courage, healing diseases, repell- 
ing evil spirits, or winning the love of scornful maidens. Or, 
if any one of these magic stones was set to gleam in the buckle 
of a warrior's plume, it was less for a show of ornament than for 

1 " A Treatise on Diamonds and Precious Stones," John Mawe, London, 


its mystic shielding power and redoubling of valor. The tradi- 
tion of these virtues has passed from generation to generation, 
and still finds credence among the masses of Asia. The poor 
natives of India believe to this day in the efficacy of sapphires 
and rubies in purifying the blood, strengthening the body, 
quenching thirst, dispelling melancholy, averting danger, and 
assuring honor and fortune. The emerald in their eyes is 
potent to dispel bad dreams, give courage, and cure palsies, 
colds, and acute dysentery. The turquoise they say will brighten 
and heal weak and sore eyes, and serve as an antidote for veno- 
mous snake bites. 1 Like the other precious stones, the diamond 
was early endowed by fancy with medical virtues, and particu- 
larly prized as a safeguard from madness, in its power to " raze 
out the written troubles of the brain." 1 It was also believed to 
be potent to touch the heart, and there is a pretty conceit that 
the darts of Cupid were diamond tipped. Perhaps the passion 
of women for gems gave point to this fiction. 

As the diverse stones of fire became better known and more 
sharply distinguished, special significance was given to each by 
some nations of the East, associating them with the planets, 
the march of the seasons, or with various divinities. Sometimes 
they were of emblematic service. For the representation of the 
twelve tribes of Israel, twelve distinct gems were set in gold 
plates on the robe of the high-priest. 3 When the rise of letters 
and the fine arts brought the devising of symbols and graven 
inscriptions, the supposed potency of these stone amulets was 
increased by the craft of priests and sorcerers, cutting the face 
of the charms themselves or directing the hands of expert work- 

1 "Oriental Accounts of Precious Minerals," Journal of Asiatic Society of 
Bengal, August, 1832. 

2 "Treatise on Gems," Feuchtwanger, New York, 1867. 

3 Exodus xxviii. " Natural History of the Bible," Thaddeus M. Harris, 
Boston, 1820. "Precious Stones in their Scientific and Artistic Relations," A. 
H. Church, London, 1883. " De Duodecim Gemmis in Veste Aaronis." 
Epiphanius, 1565. John Peter Lange, Professor University of Bonn, in Schaff's 
"Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical Commentary" on the Bible. 


men. The Chaldeans are especially charged with the fomenting 
of superstitions by the exaggeration of this conceit. These 
engraved stones served often as distinctive seals, and for con- 
venience in carrying and the gratification of a spreading taste for 
such ornaments, the talismans were set in rings and clasps. So 
Solomon's seal, summoning and mastering genii, was the wonder 
of legends, and so, too, the famous ring of Polycrates and the 
rival marvels of Oriental romancers familiar in the tales of the 
" Arabian Nights." 

As time and art disclosed more and more of the marvels of 
the stones of fire in the crust of the earth, the wonder grew and 
the supernatural potency of the various gems was more deeply 
impressed. Thus we reach the belief and tribute of the priest 
Onomacritus (500 B.C.), who declared of the lucent crystal, 
" Whoso goes into the temple with this in his hand may be 
sure of having his prayer granted, as the gods cannot withstand 
its power." Its use to concentrate the sun's rays as a burning 
glass was highly prized also in priestly ministrations. 

Onomacritus says crudely of this use that " when a trans- 
parent crystal is laid on wood, so that the sun's rays may shine 
upon it, there will soon be seen smoke, then fire, then a bright 
flame." Fire kindled through this agency was holy in the 
sight of priests and people, and no burnt offering was so pleas- 
ing to the gods as one set in these sacred flames. 

The precious stones are so greatly dependent upon the ad- 
vance in the art of polishing and cutting for the revelation of 
their qualities and beauty that it was doubtless long after their dis- 
covery before they came into any considerable use as ornaments. 
Their hardness defied, at first, any effort to fashion their shape 
with primitive tools. The most that could be effected was the 
rude polish that might be obtained by the tedious rubbing of 
the face of one stone against another. But, as time went on, 
the lines of natural cleavage were noted, and grinding wheels 
in the hands of skilful artisans gave a smooth face to the natural 
contours of the softer stones, and, later, even to the sapphire 

1 "Precious Stones and Gems," Streeter. 


and diamond. With the advance in art the demand for precious 
stones increased apace, and, to meet the demand, keener and 
wider ranging searches developed new and greater supplies. 

There is a certain tracing of the use of 
precious stones for ornaments to the ancient 
Babylonian civilization, whose existing ruins 
extend back to from 6000 to 7000 years B.C. 1 
Babylonian lapidaries were cutting and polish- 
ing carnelians, sards, onyx, and rock crystals 
before the Egyptians had advanced beyond 

The Polar Star. , . r' \ r T-'I 

the carving or their sort steatite. I hen the 
Phoenicians drew from all parts of the known earth its treasures. 2 
So Ezekiel testifies of Tyre : " Syria was thy merchant by 
reason of the multitude of wares of thy making : they occupied 
in thy fairs with emeralds, purple and broidered work and fine 
linen and coral and agate. The merchants of Sheba and Raamah, 
they were thy merchants : they occupied in thy fairs with chief 
of all spices, and with all precious stones, and gold." 

Judea had some share of this stream. The Queen of Sheba 
bore a "great store of precious stones " to Solomon (B.C. 101 5 975) 
with her tribute of gold, 4 but this was a 
trivial trickle compared with the flow to 
Phoenicia and Babylonia. Long before the 
days of the Captivity (B.C. 598), 5 the robes 
of the princes and nobles of these rich realms 
were glittering with jewels, and their gor- 
geous array was the marvel of the poor The Hope Blue, 
exiles, crying with the voice of their prophet, Ezekiel : " Every 

1 " Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge," Schaff-Herzog. "Archaeology 
of the Past Century," Professor W. M. F. Petrie. 

2 The Story of the Nations, " Phoenicia," George Rawlinson, M.A. 

3 Ezekiel xxvii. 22. 

4 " Old Testament History," William Smith. "Precious Stones in the 
Scriptures," R. Hindmarsh, London, 1851. 

5 Date of removal of jehoiachin, according to Prideaux and to Clinton. Ewald 
makes the date 597 B.C. 


precious stone was thy cove; 
in the midst of the stom 
of Eden in the valk 
den typical of the s] 

How th 
of Eden or el; 

its that 
sprinkling of 
dug and 
ing thro 



among the 

climbing of Zulmat Y 

>le vali 
rlet of t! 


me n : 

n in the i 

legends, a 
at Alex to th 

as no way of 
pt by fin 


on the mountain wit 

: this tale in mind ft 
11 be remembc 
rt island a 
to the 



1 HK !;|A.\!(.)M) 

VklC A 

Present weight, 40 carats. 

inci tor precious 
and, keener and 
.-. -eater supplies, 
sang of the use of 
K-nts to the ancient 
whose existing ruins 
o to 7000 years B.C. 1 
re cutting and poiinh- 
k'x, rind rock crystals 
id advanced beyond 
cirife. Then the 
M?rh ts treasures. 2 
merchant by 
they occupied 
work and fine 
:>'d Kaamah, 
- *srh chief 

Weight before cuttin 
carats ; weight after first 
cutting, 67^ carats > pte- 
ent weight, 44^ carats. 


cic-* in the 
jn. Ewald 


precious stone was thy covering. Thou hast walked up and down 
in the midst of the stones of fire." As tradition placed the garden 
of Eden in the valley of the Euphrates, Ezekiel makes the gar- 
den typical of the splendor of Babylon in his fervid outpouring. 

How the stones of fire were brought into being in the garden 
of Eden or elsewhere, Ezekiel was not moved to reveal, and the 
savants that have sought to tell are but groping seers. When a 
sprinkling of stones was uncovered by the rains and floods, or 
dug and washed from the beds of gravel, or traced by r.ude min- 
ing through clay or conglomerate layers or enclosing rocks, there 
was still no widespread knowledge of the deposits, and even 
among the most familiar with the search there was ever the 
hope of finding, some day, some marvellous store. Hence 
sprung up the romances. Even in the days when the sharp 
tooth of history had cut into legends, a story was told of the 
climbing of Zulmat by the great Alexander, to the rim of the 
inaccessible valley, where, beneath sheer precipices, glittered a 
coverlet of the stones of fire. There was no way of winning the 
diamonds that glowed so temptingly except by flinging down 
masses of flesh and waiting for swooping vultures to bear the 
lumps up to their perches on the mountain with precious stones 
sticking in the meat. 1 

Sindbad the sailor had this tale in mind fortunately in his 
second voyage. It will be remembered that he was stranded 
by shipwreck on a desert island and carried away by the flight 
of a gigantic rukh to the top of a distant mountain. From 
this mountain he descended into a neighboring " valley, exceed- 
ing great and wide and deep and bounded by vast mountains 
that spired high in air." Walking along the wady, he found 
that " its soil was of diamond, the stone wherewith they pierce 
minerals and precious stones and porcelain and the onyx, for 
that it is a dense stone and a stubborn, whereon neither iron or 
hardhead hath effect, neither can we cut off aught therefrom, 
nor break it save by means of lead stone." 

1 " Oriental Accounts of" Precious Minerals," Journal of Asiatic Society of Ben- 
gal, August, 1832. 


Luckily for the sailor, his descent was by day, for " the val- 
ley swarmed with snakes and vipers, each as big as a palm tree, 
that would have made but one gulp of an elephant ; and they 
came out by night, hiding during the day, lest the rukhs and 
eagles pounce on them and tear them to pieces." In view of 
the horrid prospect of soon dropping through the throat of one 
of these snakes, Sindbad began to wish that he had not flown 
away from the island, where he was, at least, out of reach of vast 
vipers, but he soon bethought himself of the old story of the 
valley from which diamond-studded meat was "plucked by 
eagles." So he quickly filled his pockets and shawl girdle and 
turban with the choicest diamonds. Then he put a piece of raw 
meat on his breast and lay down on his back. Soon a big 
eagle swooped into the valley, clutched the meat in his talons, 
and flew up to a mountain above, " where, dropping the carcass, 
he fell to rending it," leaving the lucky sailor to scramble off 
with his booty. He gave a parcel of the diamonds to the dis- 
appointed merchant, who had cast down the meat, but he had 
stuffed his clothes so full of the gems that he went home, after 
some strange sight-seeing, with a great store of diamonds and 
money and goods. 1 

This amazing tale is less teeming with interest than it was in 
the days when it was first told, for, even hundreds of years 
afterwards, diamond-lined valleys and monstrous rukhs and 
snakes that could gulp down elephants were not beyond cre- 
dence. If in valleys there might be a diamond lining, why 
should there not be a massing of diamonds and rubies in the 
dwellings of genii in caves, awaiting the entry of some lucky 
Aladdin ? Oriental fancy, teeming with visions, disdained any 
curbing within the petty confines of crawling experience, and was 
prolific in marvels far more pleasing to the masses that egged 
on the story-tellers with craving credulity. Who then could 
explode these bubbles with any sharp prick of positive contra- 
diction ? Even if in all known fields the precious stones were 
gathered by toilsome searches only rarely rewarded, who had the 
1 "Arabian Nights," Lady Burton's edition, Vol. Ill, pp. 476-482. 


range of knowledge to deny the possible existence of caverns 
filled with rubies or mountain summits studded with diamonds ? 

Seeing that to this day so little can be asserted positively of 
the forming of the precious stones scattered in the earth's crust, 
it is not surprising that the origin of the stones of fire has been, 
from the first, a baffling puzzle and a fountain-head of conflict- 
ing surmises. Some wondering people viewed them as splin- 
ters dropping from the stars, and some, as the creations or 
transformations of genii. Some Hindoo miners still believe 
that diamonds grow like onions, though much less quickly, and 
that their age is marked by the difference in their size and 
quality. Others suppose the common rock crystals to be 
immature diamonds, and the distinction is marked by calling 
the rock crystal kacha (unripe), while the diamond is pakka 

For the ripening of the crystals and the quickening of their 
seeming inward fire, the lightning bolts, that sometimes rived 
the ground, were thought to be potent. Others again, observ- 
ing the liquid purity and likeness which is marked to this day 
in the term " diamonds of the purest water," attributed the 
forming of the crystals to the supernormal trickle and hardening 
of dewdrops. It is of this fancy that Dryden makes poetic use 
in his likening of the tears of Almahide : 

" What precious drops are those, 

Which silently each other's track pursue, 

Bright as young diamonds in their infant dew ? " 2 

Bizarre speculation was stretched even to the point of attrib- 
uting to these strange crystals animal instincts and reproductive 
powers. Thus Barreto is quoted in the dictionary of Antonio 
de Moraes Silva as saying : 

" Que os diamantes se unem, amam e procream." 3 

1 "Oriental Accounts of Precious Minerals." Translation by Rajah Kalikis- 
ken, Asiatic Society of Bengal. 

2 "The Conquest of Granada," Second Part, Act III, Scene I, Dryden. 

3 "Commonplace Book," Second Series, p. 668, Southey. 


The tradition of the generative power of this marvellous 
crystal originates with the Hindoos, and to this day the 
natives of Pharrah will affirm that the diamond beds yield 
fresh supplies of well-grown stones at intervals of from fifteen 
to twenty years. 

It is seemingly hopeless to attempt to fix with any certainty 
the time when the diamond was first singled out from the peb- 
bles in which it lay, and was prized by any one, or even when it 
entered the list of gems known to the chief nations of Asia. 
Traditions coming down through the mists of legendary ages are 
conflicting and uncertain reliances at best. The ancient writers 
add to this perplexity by loose or erroneous descriptions when 
the advance of the science had not marked precise distinctions 
of structure and composition. Thus the Carbunculus of Pliny 
was probably stretched to cover the spinel or Balas ruby, the 
garnet and other red stones, besides embracing the Anthrax of 
Theophrastus or our modern ruby. Many ancient writers con- 
founded also under the general term Smaragdus various dis- 
tinct minerals of green color, not only the true emerald, but 
green jasper, malachite, chryscolla, and fluor spar. 1 Among the 
common people, pretending to no mineralogical knowledge, 
there was less thought of distinction, and, in days approaching 
our own, Tavernier observes in his travels, A.D. 1669, after 
describing the true ruby of Pegu, in Ceylon, " the fatherland 
of rubies," that "all other stones in this country are called by 
the name Ruby, and are only distinguished by color, thus, in 
the language of Pegu, the sapphire is a Blue Ruby," etc. 2 This 
confusion is not surprising, and a much more discreditable one 
occurred within the last thirty years in the sensational touting 
of the discovery of rubies in the garnets of the Macdonnell 
Ranges in South Australia. It seems highly probable that the 
stone of exquisite blue, now particularly distinguished as the 
typical sapphire, was the ancient Hyacinthus ; and the Sap- 
phirus of the ancients certainly included the lapis lazuli and 

1 "Precious Stones and Gems," Streeter, London, 1892. 

2 " Voyages en Turquie, en Perse et aux Indes," Paris, 1676. 


covered the range of corundums of every tint except red. Thus 
green sapphires are noted, although very rarely, and yellow and 
gray, as well as pure white or colorless, and this stone is pre- 
sumed by Streeter and other investigators to have been the 
" adamas " first known to the Greeks. 1 

There can be no question that sapphires or corundums of 
varied hue were much more common than diamonds in the hands 
of the merchants of the East or any other ancient collectors before 
the Christian era. The sapphire was, indeed, one of the most 
widely known of all gems, and how highly it was valued may be 
surmised from the dignity given to it by the sacred writers. The 
prophet Ezekiel likens to a " Sapphire stone " the appearance of 
the throne in the firmament above the cherubim. Job makes 
it the representative of all gems in his splendid description of the 
daring of miners. 2 

Like the sapphire, the diamond is repeatedly referred to by 
the Hebrew writers. It formed one of the typical stones in the 
high priest's breastplate, and Ezekiel puts it in the first rank of 
the stones of fire. Jeremiah speaks of the sin of Judah as written 
with the point of a diamond, " puncto adamantinis" of the Latin 
Bible, but Streeter holds that this pen point was probably a 
corundum and not the true diamond. 3 

This is a stretch of assumption largely based upon the lack 
of any precise description applying to the diamond until close to 
the beginning of the first century of our reckoning. Adamas, 
the indomitable, the adamant of the ancients, was the name given 
to the diamond because of its distinguishing hardness. Pliny 
was greatly impressed by what he heard of this characteristic, 
but obviously knew little or nothing of the stone by personal 
handling or test. For he wrote down soberly : " The most 
valuable thing on earth is the Diamond, known only to kings, 
and to them imperfectly. It is only engendered in the finest 
gold. Six different kinds are known, among these the Indian 

1 " Traite de Mineralogie, avec application aux Arts," Brongniart, Paris, 

2 Job xxviii. I 1 1. 8 " Precious Stones and Gems," Streeter. 


and Arabian of such indomitable, unspeakable hardness, that 
when laid on the anvil it gives the blow back in such force as to 
shiver the hammer and anvil to pieces. 1 

Unfortunately for the aim of identifying the diamond with 
the references to the ancient adamas, the term was commonly and 
loosely applied to any substance of peculiar hardness. So moun- 
tains of iron-stone, like unto that upon which the ship of Sindbad 
was dashed, were called adamant, and so too were the arms and 
armor of gods and heroes. Addison only transmits a tradition 
in the fine lines of his poem 

" And mighty Mars, for war renowned, 
In adamantine armor frowned." 

In Homer, as Streeter notes, adamas occurs only as a per- 
sonal name, and in Hesiod, Pindar, and other early Greek poets 
it is used to signify any hard weapon or metal like steel or an 
alloy of the harder metals. 3 No distinct identification of the 
diamond with adamas appears, according to Streeter's view, until 
the first century A.D., in the writings of the Latin poet and astron- 
omer Manilius, and his contemporary Pliny (A.D. 62-114). In 
the fourth book of Manilius's poem " Astronomicum," occurs 
this line, " Sic Adamas, punctum lapidis, pretiosior auro," which, 
Streeter says, " is supposed to be the earliest indubitable reference 
to the true diamond." It is difficult to see how this " stone's 
point, more precious than gold," is any more distinct and indubi- 
table in its reference to the diamond than the diamond pen point 
of Jeremiah hundreds of years before. But Pliny, with all his 
erroneous amplifications, unquestionably describes the true Indian 
diamond as " colorless, transparent, with polished facets and six 
angles ending either in a pyramid with a sharp point or with two 
points like whipping tops joined at the base." 4 

1 "Historia Naturalis," XXXVII, 15. 

2 Poem addressed to Sir Godfrey Kneller, referring to William III. of England. 

3 " a8a/Aas yevos otSv^ov," ^Eschylus. See Stanley's Commentary on ^Eschy- 
lus, " Prometheus Vinctus." 

4 Plinii Secundi (Caii), " Naturalis Historia," XXXVII, 15. 

In view of the han 
scratch every other pre* 
fore contended that th 
Greek writers as adat 
doubted that, even at a 
pale yellow topaz or a , 
mond in the hands 
selling. Whatever 
or the application ot 
reason in this f 
monds were found in 
Christian, era. As far 
were particularly prizec 
and were strictly exacted in 
diamond-bed washers. But t 
were less jealously guarded, 
have found their way ir 
with the other peoples < 
It seems most probable 
their first knowledge 01 
the Egyptians chiefly, f 
of Egyptian derivation, 
for the assumption that 
version of the Hebi. 
that allusions to the 
wholly unreliable or 
The main sur 
onds with th 
the appa 
the site < 
are brought 
settings have h 

1746. " Elem. de 
Wor or. 

1 " Em 

i or a 
f gem 

Present weight, 51 carats. 

. > K1CA 

hardness, that 
such torve as to 

j ;hf vbamond wuh 
i was c Mnrnonly and 

!i;ird:i<--. So moun- 
h the <ivi.i of Sindbad 

oo vvcr : :it<* arms 
trans; ^~s a trad 

v as a per- 

-'.'k poets 

r an 




, And six 
with two 


In view of the hardness of the sapphire, so great that it will 
scratch every other precious stone except the diamond, it is there- 
fore contended that this was the stone known to the earliest 
Greek writers as adamas. 1 This may be so, and it cannot be 
doubted that, even at a much later day, a white corundum or a 
pale yellow topaz or a good rock crystal often passed for a dia- 
mond in the hands of collectors or in the sharp practice of gem 
selling. Whatever may have been the blundering of the Greeks 
or the application of adamas, there is, nevertheless, no sufficient 
reason in this for questioning the probability that genuine dia- 
monds were found in the gravels of India many centuries before the 
Christian era. As far back as tradition goes the largest stones 
were particularly prized by the native princes, 
and were strictly exacted in tribute from the 
diamond-bed washers. But the smaller stones 
were less jealously guarded, and may readily 
have found their way into the hands of traders 
with the other peoples of Asia or with Egypt. 
It seems most probable that the Jews derived 
their first knowledge of precious stones from The Empress Eugenie " 
the Egyptians chiefly, for the Hebrew names of the stones are 
of Egyptian derivation. 2 Thus there is no approach to certainty 
for the assumption that the stones called diamonds in the English 
version of the Hebrew Scriptures were not rightly named, or 
that allusions to the diamond in other ancient writings were 
wholly unreliable or mistaken. 

The main support for the questioning of the mingling of 
diamonds with the other gems noted by the ancient writers is 
the apparent failure to uncover diamonds in the excavations on 
the site of ancient temples and cities where other precious stones 
are brought to light. Thus emeralds and other gems in various 
settings have been exhumed from the volcanic overflow that 

1 "History of Stones," Theophrastus. Edited by Sir John Hill, London, 
1746. " Elem. de Min.," Lessing, II, 61. "The Great Diamonds of the 
World," Streeter. 

2 " Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge," Schaff-Herzog. 


buried Herculaneum and Pompeii, from the ruins of old Rome, 
and the tombs of Egypt. 1 In the course of explorations on the 
site of Curium and other ancient towns in Cyprus, scarabs 
and scaraboids of agate, onyx, jasper, and variously tinted car- 
nelians were found, as well as gold ornaments, relics traced to the 
days of Eteandros, king of Paphos in the seventh century B.C. ; 
but no diamonds were unearthed in this collection. 2 Nor is 

there record, as yet, of the discovery of 
diamonds in the explorations in Baby- 
lonia. 3 

But this is, at most, evidence pointing 
to what is undoubted, the comparative 
rarity of the diamond among the gems 
that served as amulets or ornaments for 
the people of western Asia, northern 

The Nassak. . r . IT-- i 

Africa, or southern Europe prior to the 

Christian era and for centuries afterward. Pliny expressly asserts 
this rarity in his allusion to the diamond ; but the fact that the 
gem was scarce, outside of India, is entirely compatible with its 
occasional inclusion in the collections of sovereigns, which the 
same writer remarks, and the high value set upon it would 
naturally limit its use as an ornament. 

It is impossible to mark with any precision in what district 
of India a search for diamonds first began. Rajah Sourindo 
Mohun Tagore, in his account of the precious stones of India, 
gives the names of eight localities in which diamonds have been 
found according to tradition or more certain report. These are 
Harma (Himalayas), Matanga (Kistna), and Godaveri (or Gol- 
conda), Saurashtra (Surat), Paunda (probably including the Chutia 
Nagpur Province), Kalinga (the tract between Orissa and the 
Godaveri), Kosala (the modern Ajodhya or Berar), Vera Ganga 

1 Clarke's " Travels," Vol. VIII, p. 150. 

2 Story of the Nations, " Phoenicia," George Rawlinson. 

3 " Nineveh and Babylon," pp. 160-161, 602 et seq., Layard ; " Arch- 
aeology of the Past Century," Professor W. M. F. Petrie. 


Present weight, 82! carats. 

. from the ruins ot u)d Rome, 
he course of explorations on the 
-.. vnt towns in Cyprus, -if 
>., jasper, and various; tin red car- 
nold ornaments, :-ehcs traced to the 
''iphos in t'-u- ^evenrh century B.C.; 
.TiMrrhed in this collection.* Nor is 
;/;- record. ;<> .", 'it the disrown of 
.t?ii'>nds in explorations nt K 

But thi' 
f o xvlvrii ;s li 
rnriiy ot t.!. 
thar vf.TVv.-ii 
the people 
Africa, or , 

Most, evidence pointing 

- the comparative 

j among the gems 

ornaments for 

Asu, northern 

prior to the 

: x-^CMsi', asserts 

?a- r that the 

. *' ( e Vrith its 

v which the 

it would 

u in, irk -,s 'in .in 
r cii'.ir.i-".pi'..s fir>f 
. ; .uTnuin ot tjv. 
''\! localities in 
..;<.'.'! or more <. 
'-! i-.>:ufM. : Ki<tr. - 

Hat district 

j Sounndo 

s ot India, 

r.,i\'; been 

I hese are 

:i (or Gol- 

the Chutia 

sa and the 

era (.janga 


(the Wemganga 
and Indus rive: 

According r howir 

wide ranging r\ 
surface deposits, and -. 
logic antiqu 
borrows its i 
It seem^ pre? 

n the Sarhund 

ored over a 


Hills of old 
t the surface wast 
from th the diamond in i 

glomer gravels there arc 

quently no d z of a conglomei 

rounded pv It is likely that 

firs'. he surface wash and that the 


In some of the diamond-bearing districts of India to-day 
the native villagers are searching for diamonds exactly as their 
fathers did in days of remotest tradition. After a heavy rain 
that washes away loose soil, a 
sprinkling of diamonds may be 
found in expos .stone brec- 

cia, and sh;i. Him. 

scrape the face of the ground for 
the precious cr 

Along the banks of the Kistna 
and Godaveri rivers the Golconda 

of tradition outstretched, and this 

diamond-studded ground came 
later in;- .nds of the Nizam \\ 

of 1 id, and was included 

in the bounds of the Madras Preside^ 

bed of the Koh-i-nur and 
and f the jewels most renow 

Here, of a certainty, was the richest d 

1 "Mani Mala," Calcutta, 1879. 

1 " Manual of Geological Survey of India," P 

ight before cutting, 787! carats; 
present weight, 279^ carats. 


(the Wemganga), and Saubira (the stretch between the Sarhund 
and Indus rivers). 1 

According to this showing the diamond is scattered over a 
wide ranging region, but it occurs everywhere in one of two 
comprehensive formations, alluvial or otherwise disintegrated 
surface deposits, and conglomerate rocks of far receding geo- 
logic antiquity, belonging to the Vindyhan formation, which 
borrows its name from the Vindyhan Hills of old geographers. 2 
It seems reasonable to presume that the surface wash comes 
from the disintegration of the seat of the diamond in con- 
glomerate beds, for even in alluvial gravels there are fre- 
quently no diamonds found outside of a conglomerate of 
rounded pebbles and sandstone breccia. It is likely that the 
first diamonds were taken from the surface wash and that the 
more solid breccia was opened later. 

In some of the diamond-bearing districts of India to-day 
the native villagers are searching for diamonds exactly as their 
fathers did in days of remotest tradition. After a heavy rain 
that washes away loose soil, a 
sprinkling of diamonds may be 
found in exposed sandstone brec- 
cia, and sharp-eyed Hindoos 
scrape the face of the ground for 
the precious crystals. 

Along the banks of the Kistna 
and Godaveri rivers the Golconda 
of tradition outstretched, and this 
diamond-studded ground came 
later into the hands of the Nizam 
of Hyderabad, and was included The Great Mogul, 

in the bounds of the Madras Presidency. Here, it is claimed, 
was the bed of the Koh-i-nur and Regent and Great Mogul, 
and others of the jewels most renowned in history and romance. 
Here, of a certainty, was the richest diamond field in India, in 

1 "Mani Mala," Calcutta, 1879. 

2 "Manual of Geological Survey of India," Professor V. Ball, Vol. III. 


the days of Tavernier's travels (1669 A.D.). Here was the 
famous mine, " Gani-Coulour," that he saw, where sixty thou- 
sand natives were then at work, and " Gani-Parteal," and 
twenty more of lesser note. 1 Gani-Coulour has probably been 
identified with the modern Kolur on the Kistna, Gani being 
simply a slight change of the Persian " Kan-i " or "mine of," 
so that Gani-Coulour is the mine of Kolur as Gani-Parteal is 
the mine of Parteal. 2 The surface ground of this district along 
the rivers is a black " cotton soil " washed down by floods, and 
underlying this at an average depth of twenty feet is a layer of 
broken sandstone, quartz, jasper, flint, and granite, interspersed 
with masses of calcareous conglomerate, forming the stratum in 
which the diamonds were embedded. When the black soil had 
been dug up laboriously and carried away, the diamond-bearing 
layer was exposed, and was removed, piecemeal, to level stretches 
of ground or prepared floors, where it was scraped and picked 
over by hand to find the diamonds. 

The whole of this rich mining district and a tract stretching 
for many miles away was loosely called Golconda, or the King- 
dom of Golconda, by foreign traders and travellers, because the 
town of Golconda was its capital and the trading centre where 
the diamonds from the mines were chiefly bought and sold. 
The only mark of this old mart to-day is a deserted fort near 
Hyderabad, but its fame will endure until traditionary Golconda 
ceases to be a standard of riches. 

Next in importance and prestige to the mines of Golconda 
was the diamond field of Sumbulpur, in the Central Provinces, 
between the rivers Mahanadi and Brahmini. The diamonds of 
this district were remarkable for their purity and beauty, though 
no very large crystals have been traced to this region, and the 
few which the washings still yield rank with the finest of the 
Indian stones. Here the precious stones were found chiefly 
along the course of the Mahanadi, in a stratum of tough clay 
and pebbles stained reddish by iron oxide. At the opening of 

1 " Voyages en Turquie, en Perse et aux Indes," Tavernier, Paris, 1676. 

2 " Manual of Geological Survey of India," Vol. III. 


the dry season, thousands of villagers, men, women, and chil- 
dren, began to search every cleft and cranny in the river beds 
for diamonds. With ankovas, or light picks, the men broke 
and scraped out the diamond-bearing bed and piled the broken 
ground on the river bank. Then the women scooped up 
ground from the heaps with their daers. These were shovel- 
shaped boards, about five feet long, with ridged sides and hol- 
lowed in the centre. Resting one end of the daer on the 
ground and tilting the other slightly, they washed away the clay 
and sand and picked off the rock splinters and larger pebbles. 
After this rude sorting they spread out the finer gravel on a 
smaller board, the kootla, and scraped it over very carefully to 
separate the diamond crystals and grains of gold. When there 
was a level stretch along a bank, the native workers would some- 
times make an enclosure on this flat, with a low wall pierced at 
several points by small waterways. Then they would dump 
the diamond-bearing ground into this shallow basin and wash 
away the clay and dirt with running water. After two or three 
washings they would pick out the larger stones from the cleaned 
gravel, and dry the remainder, to be picked over on their kootlas 
or on any smooth, hard flooring. 

Perhaps the most laborious diamond digging in India has 
been in the pits of Panna and neighboring villages in the Prov- 
ince of Bundelkhund. Here the diamond-bearing conglomerate 
was buried under a cover of heavy ground, ranging in places 
over thirty feet in thickness. To reach the diamond strata large 
pits were dug, with inclines leading to the bottom in or below the 
conglomerate. There was no drainage, and the diamond diggers 
were forced to work in the rainy season knee-deep in water, 
breaking the conglomerate, and filling baskets which were hauled 
by hand to the top of the pits. In this primitive fashion the 
diamond beds of India were opened, and diamonds are to-day 
won by these simple methods or others essentially similar. 1 

1 "A Treatise on Diamonds and Precious Stones," John Mawe, London, 
1813. " A Treatise on Gems," Feuchtwanger, New York, 1867. "Precious 
Stones and Gems," Streeter, London, 1892. 


Color and size were the chief distinction in diamonds, as in 
the other precious stones, in the early days before the advance 
of the art of diamond cutting which has added so greatly to the 
brilliancy and beauty of this gem. Centuries ran by before 
the ancient lapidaries attempted more than the polishing of the 
surfaces of the natural facets of the crystal, though the compara- 
tive ease with which this hardest of stones may be split by fol- 
lowing the natural cleavage lines may have been observed. Size 
was rated so highly by the Hindoos in valuing a gem that the 
conception of increasing the worth of a jewel by cutting away 
the greater part of it would not have been tolerated even if it 
had been feasible. When cutting to a limited extent began to 
be practised in India, it was generally unsymmetrical and unsci- 
entific, as the oldest known diamonds bear witness, and there 
was comparatively little advance for many centuries, as every 
celebrated gem of Indian workmanship plainly shows. 1 But 
even with imperfect cutting and crude polishing the inherent 
beauties of the ancient stones were more or less fully disclosed. 

In the mines of Panna there were four noted divisions in 
grading. Clear and brilliant stones were in the class Motichul, 
Mansk was the class name applied to diamonds of greenish tint, 
Panna to light yellow, and Bunsput to sepia colored stones. 2 
In India at large there was a comprehensive divisional grading 
corresponding to the main caste distinctions, the "twice-born," 
priests, warriors, and merchants, and the " once-born," tillers of 
the land. 3 The Brahmans were the diamonds of highest range, 
clear and colorless crystals ; the Kshatriyas, clear crystals, amber 
tinted or of the color of honey ; Vaisyas, the cream colored ; and 
the servile Sudras, the grayish white stones. Grades in rank 
were more minutely marked in the rubies of the famous Badak- 
shan mines in Persia, where the common people believed that 
the precious stones were deposited in the " rag-i-lal " or parent 
vein in successive layers. The outside layer contained the small 

1 " A Treatise on Diamonds and Pearls," David Jeffries, London, 1751. 

2 " Precious Stones and Gems," Streeter. 

3 "Annals of India," J. Talboys Wheeler, Calcutta, 1881. 


and imperfect stones styled piadehs, foot soldiers ; the next, a 
better class of stones called sawars, horse soldiers; and so on 
through layers of amirs, bakshis, and vazirs until a single stone 
was reached, transcending all in size and beauty, which the min- 
ers polished dutifully, and took in tribute to their sovereign. 1 

With the expansion of Greek commerce and the entry of 
Greek mercenaries into the employ of satraps in Asia Minor 
(about 500 B.C.), the riches of the Orient were made known, and 
precious stones began to pass into Europe. Herodotus, 484 B.C., 
was first of the early Greek writers 2 to mark particularly the dis- 
plays of precious stones in palaces and temples the signet rings 
of Darius, the magnificent emerald in the ring of Polycrates, and 
the marvellous show of the emerald column in the temple of 
Hercules in Tyre, gleaming like a pillar of green fire at night. 
This fiery column has a certain likeness to the traditional stone 
as big as an ostrich egg, to which homage was paid as the " God- 
dess of Emeralds" by the people of the Manca Valley in Peru. 
Sceptics would clip the marvel of both by substitution of beryl, 
or aquamarine, or colored glass ; but this trimming of legend 
does not question the extraction of true emeralds from mines in 
Upper Egypt, or the superb yield of the deposits in Peru and 
New Grenada. 8 

The conquests of Alexander the Great (334-323 B.C.) made 
the Greeks familiar with the precious stones of India as well as 
of Western and Central Asia. His successors revelled in pro- 
fuse displays of jewelled rings and bracelets, and wine cups and 
candelabra, in luxurious banquets. Pliny tells a glowing tale of 
a statue of Arsinoe, wife of Ptolemy Philadelphus (283 B.C.), 
four cubits in height, made of topazon. 4 The true topaz was 
undoubtedly known to the ancient Egyptians, and is still obtained 
at Risk Allah near the old emerald mines of Jebel Zabara ; but 
the Oriental topaz is presumed to have been the yellow sapphire ; 

1 "Oriental Accounts of Precious Minerals," Journal of Asiatic Society of 
Bengal, August, 1832. ' 2 Rawlinson's "Herodotus." 

3 Brun's " Travels." Rawlinson's " Herodotus," II. 44. Prescott's " Con- 
quest of Mexico." 4 "Historia Naturalis," XXXVII, 32. 


and the Greek topazios, the yellowish green chrysolite or the 
peridot, of deeper green tint. The word is derived from Torraa, 
" to seek," because the traditional source was an island in the 
Red Sea, often difficult to reach through its envelope of fog. 1 
The loose use of the term by Pliny and other old writers makes 
it impracticable to mark with any certainty from what greenish 
hued stone Arsinoe's statue was cut. Still, in spite of current 
exaggeration and confusion of distinctions, there can be no doubt 
of the rising production and circulation of the precious stones. 

With the spread of the Roman Empire prodigality in dis- 
plays ran riot. After Pompey's victory over Mithradates, 
(B.C. 66) precious stones and pearls poured into Rome and the 
demand of vanity rose to a passion. 2 Pliny writes : " We drink 
out of a mass of gems crusting our wine bowls, and our drinking 
cups are emeralds." To heighten the wonder he tells in his gos- 
siping way how emeralds were set as the eyes of a lion sculptured 
in marble on the tomb of King Hermias in the island of Cyprus. 
So great was the size and so piercing the light of these emerald 
eyes that the tunny fish in the surrounding sea were frightened 
away until the fishermen of Cyprus put common stones in place of 
the dazzling gems. Later scepticism would make these emerald 
eyes of malachite, for copper ores were of common occurrence in 
Cyprus 3 and the glory of the emerald was scattered by loose usage 
over green fluor spar, jasper, aquamarine, malachite, and perhaps 
even green glass. There is also a shaking of the marvel of the cups, 
holding a pint, that were made out of solid carbuncles ; for these 
are supposed to be cuttings from the common garnets of the Bar- 
bary coast, flowing out from Carthage in such profusion that the 
carbuncle was called "the Carthaginian stone." 4 

Beryl was largely used in the ornamentation of cups and 

1 Diodorus Siculus, Lib. Ill, c. 38. Jameson's " Mineralogy," p. 48. 
Kidd's " Mineralogy," I, izi. 2 " Historia Naturalis," XXXVII, 6-7. 

3 Cleaveland's "Mineralogy," p. 565. Theophrastus, " De Lapid.," 
c. 49. 

4 "The Story of Carthage," p. 121, Alfred J. Church, M.A. "Story of 
the Nations." 


for cameos ; 1 and carnelian was particularly prized as a base for 
the engraving of seals or cameos, sometimes elaborately pictorial. 
The great scarab in the Prussian cabinet, representing the five 
heroes of Thebes, is a recognized masterpiece of old Etruscan 
art, and a deep-cut carnelian once belonging to Michael Angelo 
portrays the birthday festival of Dionysius. 2 Amethyst ranked 
with carnelian as a favorite stone with engravers, and it was of 
peculiar traditional service in the fashioning of drinking cups, 
from its supposed checking of drunkenness, whence its Greek 
name, a, " not," and /u,e0uw, " to intoxicate." Opals were 
placed in the first rank of gems, and Pliny tells of a senator, 
Nonius, who bore banishment and the loss of all his estate 
rather than the sacrifice of his opal ring to the greed of Mark 
Antony. 3 

Pearls were even more highly valued and lavishly displayed 
than any of the precious stones. Swelling the yield of the 
Mediterranean shores there flowed into Rome a profusion of 
still finer pearls from the Persian Gulf and Ceylon, to be set in 
necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and clasps of all kinds. Rich robes 
were bespangled with jewels, and it is reported that Lollia Pau- 
lina, the wife of Caligula (A.D. 37-41), wore a dress covered with 
pearls and emeralds. Cleopatra's famous pearls were said to 
have cost her ^80,000. Julius Caesar (B.C. 102-44) gave Servilia, 
Cato's sister, a pearl valued at over ^50,000, and Nero dropped 
handfuls of pearls in the laps of his mistresses (A.D. 54-68). 

From personal adornments, the decoration of arms and trap- 
pings, and the embellishing of banquets, the use of gems spread 
to the mounting of pictures in frames studded with precious 
stones, and the ornamentation of statuary. Nero viewed the 
combats of gladiators in a mirror of jewels, 4 and Constantine 

1 " Historia Naturalis," XXXVII, 20. 

2 "A Treatise on Gems," Feuchtwanger. 

3 "Historia Naturalis," XXXVII, 21. 

4 Ibid. XXXVII, 1 6. Beckmann thinks the mirror of Smaragdus in which 
Nero gazed may have been green obsidian, green jasper, or even green glass. 
"History of Inventions," III, 177. 


challenged the splendor of Oriental monarchs by his entry into 
Rome in a chariot of gold sparkling with precious stones 
(A.D. 312-337). 

Amid all this profusion, in which millions of sesterces were 
lavished, the diamond is noted only by rare allusions. This is 
probably accounted for by the check in the advance of lapidary 
art on reaching a stone of such indomitable hardness. Even 
the diamonds set in the clasp of the regal mantle of Charlemagne, 
after the opening of the ninth century, show only a partial polish- 
ing of the natural planes of the crystals. There was no scientific 
cutting of facets to heighten the brilliancy of the stone until the 
fifteenth century. When artificial shaping was attempted before 
that time, it did not go beyond the production of a flat top or 
table, or a convex surface, with a truncated pyramid as a base. 
Even when a large number of facets were cut, as was sometimes 

O ' 

done by East Indian lapidaries, there was no scientific propor- 
tioning, as was signally shown in the instance of the remarkable 
stone known as the " Beau Sancy," which came into the posses- 
sion of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. It was the recut- 
ting of this stone in 1465, by the true artist Louis de Berquem 
of Bruges, that marks the rising of the modern art that has 
enhanced so immensely the resplendence and beauty of the 
diamond, and established its place securely as the chief among 
gems that are prized for adornment. 

Then begins the entry of the famous diamonds passing over 
the face of Europe with meteoric trains of adventure. The 
Beau Sancy glitters for a moment in the splendid array led by 
Charles the Bold against the Swiss peasants. On the bloody 
field of Granson (3d March, A.D. 1476) where the best knights 
of Burgundy were killed or put to flight by the mountaineers, 
the jewel that might ransom a king is trampled under foot in 
the rout. A Swiss soldier picks it up. It is no more in his 
eye than a bit of glass which he is well pleased to sell for a florin 
to a priest. Philip de Commines says that the priest knew no 
more of its value than the soldier, and thought he did well to 
make a franc by selling the diamond to the burghers of Berne. 

TH ! 

There appears 

reappear oi: irer in i 

of Portugal, who plet!- :Vom 


of France. soon buys it oi. 

thousand t: !e for a 

of his kin^. 
When i 
(1589), M. ii< 

and i_one 

So his body 
is thro his 

the place of burial is later Resent weight, 531.* carats. 
seai \1. de Sancy, the 1 

found in th ;>mach. 

Undimmed -cly adventure, it r" 

to shine on the ; jth of England 

From the la- 
the few treas 
from his throne 
buys the gen 

ie of tru 
lution. In i 
bear it offwi 
years, till it 
the Den 

less a 

of the c< 
by the a 

1 "A Treatise on ' 

\ ; /r I 


ujth ;; trui: 
-t f:uc:^- \\ 


monarchs ; i:s entry into 
.ling *irh . jous stones 

sesterces were 
cions. This is 

re of lapidary 
^-iness. I'.ven 
? I harkmagnc, 
1 partial jv>lwh- 

as no scientific until the 
tempted before 
f a flat top or 
mid as a base, 
was sometimes 
-.-p^hc propor- 


! he 

'<rd by 


>'. knights 


-ifr foot in 

.>ri- in his 

'or a florin 


There the diamond disappears. One current story makes it 
reappear one hundred years later in the possession of the king 
of Portugal, who pledges it with other jewels for a loan from 
Nicholas Harlai, Seigneur de Sancy, and treasurer of the king 
of France. M. de Sancy soon buys it outright for one hundred 
thousand francs and loans it to sparkle for a time on the head 
of his king, Henry III. (A.D. 1574-1589). 
When Henry of Navarre comes to the throne 
(1589), M. de Sancy sends the diamond to 
him by a trusted servant. Thieves waylay 
and kill the messenger, but the precious stone 
is seemingly not in his keeping. So his body 
is thrown into a grave hastily made by his 
murderers. When the place of burial is later The Sancy. 

searched out by direction of M. de Sancy, the lost diamond is 
found in the dead man's stomach. 

Undimmed in this ghastly adventure, it rises from the grave 
to shine on the breast of Elizabeth of England (A.D. 15581603). 
From the last of the Tudors it passes to the Stuarts, and one of 
the few treasures that James the Second carries off in his flight 
from his throne (A.D. 1688) is the brilliant Sancy. Louis XIV. 
buys the gem from the king in exile (A.D. 1695), and it is held 
as one of the most precious of the crown jewels until the Revo- 
lution. In 1792 robbers break open the treasure chamber and 
bear it off with other plunder. Again it is beyond tracing for 
years, till it reappears in the hands of a noble Russian family, 
the Demidoffs, from whom it passes to London merchants, and 
finally to the Maharajah of Puttiala. It may be that the adven- 
tures of two diamonds are fused in this tale, but it is none the 
less an outline of truth with the marvel of romance. 1 

Even Aladdin's wonderful palace, reared in a night by the 
hands of obedient genii, scarcely outstripped the glittering show 
of the court of the Great Moguls, enthroned in Delhi (A.D. 1526) 
by the arms of the Sultan Baber and his grandson Akbar, of the 

1 " A Treatise on Gems," Feuchtwanger. " Great Diamonds of the World," 


line of Timour the Tartar. Here embassies passed through the 
main gate of the palace along a magnificent avenue to the grand 
central square. Thousands of bodyguards in splendid dress lined 
the way, and behind the ranks richly caparisoned elephants 
were massed, waving flags of satin and silver. Dark eyes peered 
through the crimson hangings of the howdahs and the gilded 
lattices of the zenana cloisters bordering the square. Beyond 
the cloisters gardens outspread, with beds of lovely flowers and 
sheltering arbors and fountains splashing in sculptured basins. 

The entrance to the durbar or audience hall was through a 
pavilion hung with tapestries of purple and gold to a stately 
marble chamber, whose pillars and walls gleamed with rainbow 
hues. Under a canopy of flowered tissue on silver poles was set 
the imperial throne, the matchless triumph of Indian art. There 
strutted two peacocks fashioned deftly of jewels and gold to 
depict every plume and hue of the living creature. The out- 
spread tail seemed to flutter in mimicry of life with the sheen of 
sapphires and emeralds. The body was of enamelled gold and 
the eyes two radiant diamonds. Peacocks were emblems of the 
sun and of the descent of the Great Moguls from the sun through 
Chenghiz Khan. Ranged beside these splendid figures were 
stands bearing masses of unfading flowers, for every stem and 
leaf and petal was counterfeited in precious stones and metals. 

When the Great Mogul took his seat on his throne of solid 
gold studded with jewels, all bent low before his imperial 
majesty attired in cloth of gold blazing with precious stones 
in armlets and necklaces and crusted embroidery. Over the 
entrance to the hall was engraven in letters of gold : " If there 
be an elysium on earth, it is this." Here was at least a splendor 
of luxury beyond all rivalry. Never was shown, in vain Babylon, 
adventurous Tyre, or imperial Rome, any display as dazzling as 
the jewels of Delhi. 1 

1 "The Turks in India," Henry George Keene, London, 1879. "His- 
tory of British India," Sir W. W. Hunter. Hunter's "Indian Empire." 
"Tales from Indian History,"]. Talboys Wheeler. "Travels in the East," 
Vol. Ill, Forbes. 

AW! 2 7 

Here the Ko!i-i-nur, Mounts^ i price- 

less trophy. In ?he great battle of i 
when the last ei of the Afghan ' 

beaten by Baber, the Rajah of Gwa ! .ell," as 

Baber wrote g I valued "at 

half the dai' > hole wor'ii " came in tribute to 

Humaiun, ; lere, too, were the 

Koh-i-t -nur, Sea of Light, 

and the loon, and that prodigy of 

diamonds, the :o Shah Jehan by the 


These j /eted and hoarded with insane 

passion wh her lure in the boasted elysium was as 

Dead .S to the jaded senses. 

Shah Jehan, dethroned and impris- 
oned at Agra, sank to dotage, clasp- 
ing his casket of jewels, and trickling 
diamonds and rubies over his head 
and breast. When his son, Aurung- 

zeb, sent a messenger to borrow some V \^^ < ^\~-.\/ 
of this hoard, the resentful old man 
threatened to break up the gems in 

rr-. Present weight, 106 carats. 

a mortar. Shah Rokh, the feeble son 

of Nadir Shah, who broke the peacock thrjt 

was blinded by the Aga Mohammed in 

the Koh-i-nur. Then his head was 

ring of paste to hold boiling oil, but even this 

onl the surrender of a ruby plucked from tfie crown of 

Aurunp >hah Zaman, blinded by his brother Shuja, hid 

the Koh-i-nur defiantly for years in the plaster of his prison 

cell ; and Shuja, blinded by a third brother, Mahmud, yielded 

up the priceless stone to Runjeet Singh, only 8 his family 

from agon; /-ing death. 

In the sa k of Delhi by Nadir Shah in 1739, t ^ le wonderful 

1 Memoirs of Sultan Baber. 

1 "Voyage- en Turquie, en Perse et ttr , Paris, 1676. 

>< HTTU AI'kK A 

s:ts passed through the 

; :uc; -;e to the grand 

i-.'idid dress lined 

i -i: , ' iied elephants 

1 ark e\-.-s peered 

' i:iis ::nd thr gilded 

u : % .f Miuare. Beyond 

.;t i./volv flowers and 

!-i sculptured basins. 

;v;-e hail was through a 

i ; i xuid to a stately 

.: ltd with rainbow 

I'ver poles was set 

1 I :..;i jn trr. There 

and gold to 

The out- 

"h^cn of 


m penal 


( \er the 

"If there 

;i splendor 

- .an Babylon, 

as da/zling as 

^~y. "Hts- 
V.UM Empire." 
;n the East," 


Here the Koh-i-nur, Mountain of Light, sparkled, a price- 
less trophy. .In the great battle of Pariput (April 2ist, 1526), 
when the last emperor of the Afghan-Lodi dynasty, Ibrahim, was 
beaten by Baber, the Rajah of Gwalior was " sent to hell," as 
Baber wrote grimly, and his most precious jewel valued "at 
half the daily expense of the whole world" came in tribute to 
Humaiun, the great sultan's favorite son. 1 Here, too, were the 
Koh-i-tur, Mountain of Sinai, and the Darya-i-nur, Sea of Light, 
and the Taj-e-mah, Crown of the Moon, and that prodigy of 
diamonds, the Great Mogul, presented to Shah Jehan by the 
Emir Jemla. 2 

These precious stones were coveted and hoarded with insane 
passion when every other lure in the boasted elysium was as 
Dead Sea fruit to the jaded senses. 
Shah Jehan, dethroned and impris- 
oned at Agra, sank to dotage, clasp- 
ing his casket of jewels, and trickling 
diamonds and rubies over his head 
and breast. When his son, Aurung- 
zeb, sent a messenger to borrow some 
of this hoard, the resentful old man 
threatened to break up the gems in 

01 i T> i i i c \ i The Koh-i-nfir. (Present Cutting.) 

a mortar, bnan Rokn, the feeble son 

of Nadir Shah, who broke the peacock throne of the Moguls, 
was blinded by the Aga Mohammed in the vain effort to extort 
the Koh-i-nur. Then his head was shaved and circled with a 
ring of paste to hold boiling oil, but even this intensity of torture 
only forced the surrender of a ruby plucked from the crown of 
Aurungzeb. Shah Zaman, blinded by his brother Shuja, hid 
the Koh-i-nur defiantly for years in the plaster of his prison 
cell ; and Shuja, blinded by a third brother, Mahmud, yielded 
up the priceless stone to Runjeet Singh, only to save his family 
from agonizing death. 

In the sack of Delhi by Nadir Shah in 1739, the wonderful 

1 Memoirs of Sultan Baber. 

2 "Voyages en Turquie, en Perse et aux Indes," Tavernier, Paris, 1676. 


store of jewels in the court of the Mogul emperors was borne away 
by the plunderers. It is supposed that the Great Mogul was 
broken at that time, and other famous diamonds were beyond 
tracing for years. The great gems were still more widely scat- 
tered upon the assassination of Nadir Shah, and some of the finest 
of the crown jewels of Europe have probably come from the 
hoards of Delhi. The Darya-i-nur and Taj-e-mah were set in a 
pair of bracelets which Sir John Malcolm saw at the court of 
Persia, 1 and they are still the most precious of the jewels of the 
Shah. Some have seen in the Orloff or Sceptre diamond of the 
Czar, the reappearance of the Great Mogul, but Streeter thinks 
that the Great Mogul has never come to light since the loot of 
the treasures of Nadir Shah by the Abdalli-Afghans. 

When the Koh-i-nur came into the hands of Runjeet Singh, 
he had the stone set in a bracelet which he wore proudly on 
every parade day. On his death-bed he sought to propitiate 
the gods by presenting this, the chief of his jewels, to the shrine 
of Jaga-nath (Juggernaut), but his hand was too weak to sign the 
warrant of delivery. So the gem descended to the young rajah 

Dhulip-Singh, and was held until the 
Indian mutiny and the seizure of the 
Punjaub by the English forces. Then 
the state property of the province was 
confiscated to pay debts due to the East 
India Company, but the Koh-i-nur was 
reserved for the English crown, and on 
June jd, 1850, this jewel, from earliest 
The orioff. tradition the emblem of conquest, was 

placed in the hands of Queen Victoria by the messengers of 
Lord Dalhousie. 

Every precious stone of uncommon size has some adventure 
to tell, though its tale may not be a drama of as many acts as the 
Koh-i-nur's career. What a strange story might be drawn from 
the Orloff of the sights in the temple of Mysore, when it was 
the eye of the Hindoo god, Sri-Ranga. 2 There was no other 

1 " Sketches of Persia," Sir John Malcolm, 1827. 2 Ibid. 


Present weight, 194* cnrats. 

>t the Moini! emperors was borne away 

supposed that the drear Mogul was 

other MPKHIS diamonds were beyond 

eir !' '!>> vsere <-riil more widely seat- 

\ajir Siuih, a iid some of the finest 

probably conic from the 

. u.i ai:d Taj-e-mah were sei in a 

Malcolm saw at the court of 

o>t i>recio','s ot the jewels ot the 

h !?!' or Sceptre diamond of the 

Mouul, but Streeter thinks 

> iij.';ht since the loot of 


i' kunjeet Singh, 

: proudly on 

:{!u to propitiate 

;, to the shrine 

i s l u!...i ---as roo ^\ik ro sign the 

.--ided to rn^ 1 young rajah 

,;.",, ami \\^ hi Id until rhe 

,.lim : :- aiui t'he .ei/ure of the 

forces. Then 

sfi'v :\ of tf province was 

i.-t > the Fast 

: ( k -h-t nur was 

: ..-AH, and on 

in.t'r. earliest 

Conquest, was 

. : lie -Messengers of 

has some adventure 

],;i!!vi of as manv acts as the 

" in tie : :>;>rs' micrht be drawn from 

(:-.-Mpit of Mvsorc, wh. was 

R intri.- 'i'luie ; ..rher 

witness of the ? 
a devotee on ti- 
the precious stone . 
to Madras. Here tru 
^2,000 for his 
times this sum v 
favor of the 

The Rege 
gems of th- 
in the bank 
1701, c< 
the s: 

first opt *>e sei 

coast and to; 

mere' 1 

big diamond was 

the captain. When 

open sea, he flung th rboai 

to drown, and took 

merchant, from wh< 

George, Thomas Pitt, gr.i:i- 

It was one of the 
stone weighing 410 " 
to be out of h; 
racked by the fear ot 
ful gem was in his !-* * Mid 

at a i 

peace of 

for ^135,000 to 

minority of Louis X 

made une of the 

most prodigal and luxu 

the Bourbons until the 

stolen by the robbers who earn* 

:h rough r 

Weight before cutting, 410 carats; 
present weight, 136}! carats. 


n the 


iter in the 

was held by 

1792 it was 

:y and thrown into 


witness of the sacrilege of the French grenadier, masquerading as 
a devotee on the black and stormy night when he plucked out 
the precious stone eye and ran off through the British army lines 
to Madras. Here the captain of an English ship gave him 
^2,000 for his prize, but it cost Prince Orloff more than fifty 
times this sum when he bought it in Amsterdam to win back the 
favor of the Empress Catherine. 

The Regent lies in state, most lustrous and precious of the 
gems of the old French crown. The slave who found it buried 
in the bank of the Kistna River, A.D. 
1701, cut his leg deeply to pouch 
the stone in his flesh, and wrapped the 
wound in a thick bandage. At the 
first opening he ran away to the sea- 
coast and found refuge on an English 
merchant ship. But the lure of the 
big diamond was too tempting to 
the captain. When his ship was in the 
open sea, he flung the slave overboard 

to drown, and took the stolen diamond to sell to an Indian 
merchant, from whom it passed to the governor of Fort St. 
George, Thomas Pitt, grandfather of the great Earl of Chatham. 

It was one of the largest of all known diamonds, the rough 
stone weighing 410 carats, and Thomas Pitt would not suffer it 
to be out of his sight or touch day or night, though he was 
racked by the fear of thieves and murderers. While the alarm- 
ful gem was in his keeping, it is said that he never slept twice 
under the same roof, and moved from place to place in disguise, 
at a moment's caprice, to cover his tracks. Fortunately for his 
peace of mind, as well as his purse, he was able to sell his prize 
for ^135,000 to the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France in the 
minority of Louis XV. (A.D. 1715-1723). So the splendid stone 
made the fortune of the house of Pitt, and came to glitter in the 
most prodigal and luxurious court of Europe. It was held by 
the Bourbons until the French Revolution, and in 1792 it was 
stolen by the robbers who carried off the Sancy and thrown into 


a ditch in the Champs Elysees. Here it was picked up with other 
plunder which the thieves did not dare to keep or offer for sale. 

Then it was uplifted again to the French 
crown and has held its place through 
revolutions that have unmade kings and 

So it might be told how " The Flor- 
entine " wandered from India through 
Tuscany to the Austrian crown, how 
the " Piggott " saw Clive's conquests 
(A.D. 1751-1767) and travelled to Eng- 
land with the governor of Madras and 

was crushed to powder by the dying Ali Pasha, how the 
" Star of the South " made its way from 
the sands of Brazil to glitter on the 
breast of the fantastic Gaikwak of Baroda 
while he killed disagreeable people with 
diamond dust, and how banished con- 
victs won their pardon from the Portu- 
guese crown by the discovery of the 
Braganza, the largest diamond, if genu- 
ine, that the world ever saw. 1 Thepiggott. 

No one can say of a true diamond 
story, " it is closed " ; for diamonds 
outlast dynasties, and their wander- 
ings may be on the verge of renewal 
when they seem to be ended. " A 
jewel may rest on an English lady's 
arm that saw Alaric sack Rome, and 
beheld before what not ? The 

The Star of the South. 

1 " Great Diamonds of the World," Streeter. < Diamonds," W. Pole, 
London Archsological Trans., London, 1861. " Diamonds and Precious Stones," 
H. Emanuel, London, 1865. "Outlines of Mineralogy," J. Kidd, Oxford. 
"Traite Complet des Pierres precieuses," Charles Barbot, Paris, 1838. "The 
People of India," J. Forbes Watson and J. W. Kaye, Editors. " Gemmarum et 
Lapidum Historia," etc., Boetius, 1647. 

p of t! 1 
vulgar pro i 
at the amph 

the peacock 
Armenian t. 
last, come ! 


been fouiv 

I ^^V\ 
\ x\ 

i. 1 ne 
ting the 




yst'Ch. Here ;t was picked up with other 

L-S '.ii-d not vitirc to ka -jr ortcr for sale. 

Then it v\as uplifted i^.iin fo the French he :ts place through 
?!-.;U h;i' v , i a made kings and 

Present weight, 133^ carats. 

Weight before cutting, 254! carats; 
present weight, 124^ carats. 

^i^h*- he :>!(! how " Tht Flor- 

i troiii India through 

-i.;uiy : > tiic AUS:.H.IM crown, how 

Fi^uo't ,aw Chve's conquests 

and. travelled to Eng- 

;nvernor of Madras and 

t'asha. how the 

Present weight, 82^ carats. 

Js," W. Pole, 
c'.ious Stones," 

Kidd, Oxford. 
i;S. "The 
( mmarum et 


3 1 

treasures of the palaces of the Pharaohs and of Darius, or the 
camp of the Ptolemies, come into Europe on the neck of a 
vulgar pro-consul's wife to glitter at every gladiator's butchery 
at the amphitheatre ; then pass in a Gothic ox-wagon to an Arab 
seraglio at Seville; and so back to its native India, to figure in 
the peacock throne of the Great Mogul; to be bought by an 
Armenian for a few rupees from an English soldier, and so, at 
last, come hither." 

The illustrations of the historic diamonds shown in this chapter have been 
made from photographs of facsimiles of the stones, and are the exact sizes of the 

Dana and other mineralogists mention that diamonds in the form of cubes have 
been found. While one might expect to find diamond crystals in cubic form, as 
this is the fundamental form of the isometric system, still very few specimens have 
come under my own observation, and none until within the past two years. De 
Beers Company's Premier Mine has produced most of these, while a few are 
reported as coming from Bultfontein. The usual form of these diamonds is a 
cube with bevelled edges, representing the combination oo o 2 and oo o oo. 
See illustration below. 



CHILD picking a shining pebble for a play- 
thing from the gravel edging a river was this 
sport of blind chance the revelation of the mar- 
vellous diamond fields of Africa ? In narrow 
fact, yes ; but in a wider, truer range of view, 
this discovery was the crown that sooner or 
later must reward the search of daring adventurers and the push 
of stubborn pioneers into the dark heart of the continent. 

There was no chance in the strain of pluck that braved 
strange perils to reach traditional Ophir and the pits of King 
Solomon's mines, that wandered far in quest of the golden cities 
of Monomotapa, that tore the wilderness from the clutch of the 
lion and vulture, and beat back the frantic impis of Tchaka, 
Dingaan, and Umsilikazi. The ardor and the toil and the 
courage and the blood of ten generations of explorers were 
spent before it was possible for a little child to play pitch and 
toss with the pebbles of the Orange River and clasp a rough 
diamond in his heedless hand. 

Two dominant motives were fused with the high-spirited zeal 
for exploration that so signally stamped the fifteenth century, 
the opening of an all-sea route to the Indies, and the grasp of 
the riches of lands behind the veil. In the unknown there is 
space for any vault of fancy, and in that romantic age her soaring 
wings were rarely clipped. One may be moved to smile at the 
fantastic visions of the men who found the southern waterway 
to the Indies, and added a new world to the old ; but there will 
be no sneer in the smile of any one who can measure his own 
debt to experience, and put himself back five centuries to stand 

- Of THE 



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on the deck with Cam, Dias, and Da Gama, or the still more 
greatly daring Columbus. 

Visschcr's Map of Africa, A.D. 1662. (From a copy in the British Museum.) Reproduced 
in English by Guiljelmo Blaeuw. 

But who can to-day feel the hopes and fears that shook 
those strong hearts ? Who can lay the course for their clumsy 
caravels over the unknown stretches of ocean ? Who can sail 
on with them day after day and night after night without a chart 



or buoy or beacon or surf-rocked bell ? Who can start from 
fitful sleep to pierce the night with straining eyes or watch for 
the glimmer of the dawn on sea-girt horizons ? Who can recall 
their racking fears or the dazzling images ever forming and dis- 

- ~ 


Visscher's Map of Africa, published A.I). 1662. 

solving in the alembic of their fancy ? With every daybreak 
the isles of Atlantis might spring into view, or gardens fairer 
than the golden Hesperides, or monsters more horrific than 
dragons, guarding hoards beyond the dreams of avarice, or, per- 


Y-.tJh" i ."< x" 5 "9!S T 


(From a copy in the British Museum.) 


chance, even the realms of some potentate accustomed to make 
footstools of princes with stiffer necks than haughty Xerxes or 
the terrible Tamburlane. 

Amid the drift of such cloudy conceits there was one more 
clearly shaped and persistent than the rest. Somewhere below 
the equator, in the unknown expanse of Africa, tradition placed 
the home of the Queen of Sheba, King Solomon's mines, and the 
marvels of Ophir. Every adventurer skirting the South African 
coast hoped to touch with certainty the shore of this delectable 
country. The alluring recital in Kings and Chronicles glittered 
before his eyes. 1 In fancy he saw the gathering of the ships in 
" Ezion-Geber, which is beside Eloth on the shore of the Red 
Sea," and how this fleet came to Ophir and fetched from thence 
gold, four hundred and twenty talents, and brought it to King 
Solomon. He saw, too, the coming of the Queen of Sheba to 
the king to prove him with hard questions, and the great train 
that followed her with camels that bare spices and very much 
gold and precious stones. Then it was told him how the queen 
was overcome by Solomon's wisdom and grandeur until " there 
was no more spirit in her," and she gave the king one hundred 
and twenty talents of gold, and of spices very great store, and 
precious stones. Following this tribute came the regular flow, 
from Ophir to Judea, of gold and gems and almug trees in the 
transports of Tyre. With such a fountain of supply, it was 
easy to credit the wonderful tale of the targets and shields of 
beaten gold, of the throne of ivory overlaid with gold, and of all 
the other displays of Solomon's splendor. If the king's gold 
made silver to be in Jerusalem as stones in the eyes of the 
chronicler, it is not surprising that this vision came down 
undimmed to the days of Da Gama. 

But how to find the source of this flow was the puzzle that 
faced the explorer. Unfortunately the old chroniclers had 
omitted to give any landmarks of King Solomon's mines. Sur- 
mise strayed down the eastern coast of Africa, and the close 
commercial connection between southwestern Arabia and the 

1 1 Kings ix., x ; 2 Chronicles viii., ix. 


Outline Copy of the Catalan 
(In the original the shore line has almost illegible names, 

equatorial coast region of East Africa was unquestionable. 
Herodotus declares that East Africa at its furthest known limits 
supplied gold in great plenty as well as huge elephants and 
ebony. The Alexandrian geographers mark rudely the East 
African coast line to Zanzibar, and attest the relations between 



Mappermonde, 1375. 

which, for the sake of clearness, have been omitted here.) 

this coast and Arabia Felix. Eratosthenes observes that naviga- 
tion extends down East Africa beyond Bab-el-Mandeb, " along 
the myrrh country, south and east as far as the Cinnamon coun- 
try, about five thousand stadia." Ptolemy, in the second cen- 
1 Strabo, XVI, Chap. IV, 4. 


tury A.D., describes quite accurately the east coast of Africa as 
far as Zanzibar and Ras Mamba Mku. His information was 
chiefly derived from Arabian merchants. But, as Schlechter has 
closely pointed out in his admirable monograph, 1 there is no 
trace or hint anywhere during the Greek and Roman periods of 
antiquity of any colony or emporium south of the Zanzibar 

Outline Copy of the Portolano Laurenziano, 1351. 

coast, and not long after the time of Herodotus the gold im- 
ports of Arabia had shrunk to inconsiderable importance. With 
the decline of the Himyaritic Kingdom in Arabia, soon after the 
second century of our era, there was a falling off of commercial 
enterprise and intercourse with Africa, so marked that even the 

1 " Periplus of the Erythraean Sea," Henry Schlechter, The Geographical 
Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, July, 1893. 

EDRISI'S MAP, AO>. 1154. 




notable map of the Arabian Edrisi, in 1154 A.D., shows how 
slight and vague was the advance in the knowledge of the Dark 
Continent from the days of the Alexandrian geographers. Still 
this old chart gives some substantial proof of the communica- 
tion of Arabian traders with the natives on the East African 
coast. But on this map the African coast appears to curve 

Africa de Mappermonde, Juan de la Cosa, 1500. (This map was made only fourteen years after 
the discovery of the Cape of Good Hope, and is one of the earliest known maps giving the 
entire contour of Africa with approximate accuracy.) 

east continuously from the mouth of the Red Sea, and Edrisi 
was plainly ignorant of the abrupt trend to the south from Cape 
Guar-da-fui. Yet he shows rudely the islands lying off the east 
coast of Africa, and, south of Sokotra, traces the African main- 
land in three divisions, Zendj (Zanzibar), Sofala, and Vakvak. 

With all its imperfections this Arabian map was in advance 
of any European portrayal of South Africa. It was the prevail- 
ing belief in the Middle Ages, " bequeathed from antiquity," as 


Justin Winsor observes, that " owing to the impassable heats of 
the torrid zone, it could not be discovered whether this region 
were inhabited or whether land existed there." Map makers 
plainly made the bounds of land and water beyond the equator 
from sheer surmise, and the confession was commonly frank that 
the land was terra incognita and the ocean a sea of darkness. 
" Most famous of all these early maps " (of the Atlantic Ocean), 

Dutch Ship of the XVIIIth Century. 

says Winsor, 1 " was the Catalan Mappermonde of 1375." It was 
probably the one best known by the sailors sent out by Prince 
Henry of Portugal, in the year 1413, to follow down the Atlan- 
tic shore line of Africa. On this map, all known Africa is 
bounded on the south by a line drawn eastward from Finisterra, 
off the mouth of the Rio Del Oro, about 23 north of the 
equator, nearly across the continent to the Egyptian Nile. In 
the Portolano Laurenziano of 1351, the outline of Africa is given 

1 " Narrative and Critical History of America," Vol. I, p. 55, Justin Winsor. 


Dutch Ships of the XVI Ith Century. 

an approach to reality that is highly remarkable, but it is clearly 
a happy stretch of guesswork. 1 

All of the region south of Cape Non was practically un- 
known to the adventurers of the fifteenth century. 2 Their ears 
were filled with doleful tales of the calms and storms, the 

Dutch Ships of the XVI Ith Century. 

1 " Life of Prince Henry of Portugal, surnamed the Navigator, and its Results," 
R. H. Major, London, 1868. 

2 Chief of the charts in the fifteenth century were those of Andrea Bianco, 
"Atlas," 1436, and " Carta Nautica." Justin Winsor, "Narrative and Critical 
History of America," Vol. I, p. 55. 


mud-banks and the fogs, of the Sea of Darkness. If by any 
stretch of daring they might cross the equatorial line, they were 

Dutch Ship of the XVI Ith Century. 

burdened with the fear that they would begin to slide down an 
inclined plane with a rush that would pitch them headlong into 

Dutch Ships of the XVIIth Century. 

some bottomless abyss. The only assurance of a happier issue 
was the bare tale of old Herodotus of some nameless Phoenician 



sailors who had skirted the coast south from the Red Sea in the 
days of Pharaoh Necho (610594 B.C.), and returned nearly 
three years later through the Pillars of Hercules and the Medi- 
terranean. These sailors brought back, with their load of ivory, 
feathers, and gold, the report that during a considerable part of 
this voyage they had the sun on their right hand. It is this 
detail that now chiefly confirms the story, bat this was beyond 
the credence of Herodotus, 1 and it would seem that this ancient 
mariner's tale was soon generally disbelieved, for the special 

Dutch Ships of the XVI Ith Century. 

searches made in the Alexandrian library by Eratosthenes and 
Marinus of Tyre in the third and second centuries B.C. brought 
to light no other records or traces of the voyage. So it was not 
with reliance on this alleged circumnavigation that the adven- 
turers of Portugal groped painfully for seventy years along the 
coast, until the daring Dias set his stone crosses at Angra 
Pequena and Algoa Bay and sighted the turning point of the 
path to the Indies in the frowning Cabo de Todos los Tor- 
mentos. 2 King John was quick to see the promise in the land 

1 " Herodotus," Bk. 4, 42, Rawlinson. Z A.D. 1486. 


of Dias and change the Cape of Storms to Cabo de Boa Espe- 
ranza, but ten years passed before Vasco da Gama followed 
down the trail and rounded the Cape in the immortal voyage 
that reached the long-sought Indies six years after Columbus 
had touched the island hem of the new world. 1 

Dutch Ships of the XVIIIth Century. 

The completed circling of Africa by European adventurers 
was a no less memorable achievement of Da Gama. He touched 
at Mozambique on the first of March, 1498, and there saw gold, 
in the hands of Arabs, that had passed up the coast from Sofala. 
Nearly twenty years before, a Portuguese courtier, Pedro de 
Covilhao, had reached Sofala in an attempt to pass to India by 
way of Egypt. 2 

For many years and possibly for many centuries there had 
been a trickle of gold from Sofala through Arab traders, and 
Da Gama saw enough of it to move his king to lay his hands 
upon it. In the expedition of Cabral, which followed in the 
wake of Da Gama in 1500, the great captain, Bartholemeu 

1 " Prince Henry the Navigator," C. Raymond Beazley. 

2 "The Portuguese in South Africa," George McCall Theal. " South Africa 
from Arab Domination to British Rule," R. W. Murray, editor, London, 1891. 



Bias, was specially commissioned to seek the source of the 
gold stream. Bias was drowned in the storm which sunk four 
ships of this fleet, but Cabral took a vessel carrying gold from 
Sofala and sailed to Kilwa, where the Arab Ibrahim and his 
forefathers had been drawing gold from Sofala for a long term 
of years. Upon the report of Cabral, Ba Gama turned out of 
his way to Mozambique in his second voyage, in 1502, to enter 
Sofala and take possession of Kilwa, and three years later Pedro 
da Nhaya sailed from Lisbon with six ships and built a fort 
and trading station at Sofala. 

Behind this persistent push to Sofala there was more than 
the actual showing of gold. Here was one of the traditional 
gateways to King Solomon's mines, and the Portuguese were 
quick to embrace the tradition. They gave the glittering name 
of Ophir to their fort. South of the fort there runs a river, 
called by the Arabs Sabi, and this was pounced upon as a 

Dutch Ships of the XVIIIth Century. 

probable twist of the old Hebrew Sheba. From those days 
Fort Ophir was the starting point of Portuguese adventurers 
in search of the fountain head of Solomon's treasures. 

The Portuguese then had uncommonly sturdy sea-legs and 
asked nobody to show them the way over the ocean foam, but 




they were far less ready to weary their legs with trudging over 
mountain ridges or scrambling through the dense thickets of 
the rugged land west of Sofala. The Arab traders were more 
ready to venture inland, but there is no evidence to show that 
any of them went farther than a few hundred miles, at most, 
from the seacoast. It was an exceedingly difficult country to 
penetrate, and the savage natives were jealous of any approach, 
if they did not stubbornly bar the way and murder intruders. 

* - \ 

B!S I 

5: ^^^mm./:^ 

V --' Dr 

Map showing the Position of Ancient Ruins in Rhodesia. 

The horrid death of the first Portuguese viceroy was a warn- 
ing that struck deep into the hearts of the earlier adventurers. 
Francisco d' Almeida, returning with his fleet from India in 
1510, touched the African coast near the first landing of Diaz. 
To resent some little clash with the nearest native tribe he led 
a troop of soldiers inland to surprise their village, but was way- 
laid in the bush and his troop was put to flight by a hail of 
darts and stones. D' Almeida put his ensign in the hand of a 
trusty follower, but in the next moment he was stabbed in the 
throat by an assagai and his head was crushed by the swing 


of a knob kerrie. Sixty-five of his picked swordsmen fell with 
him and the rest only saved their lives by abject flight, chased 
to the shore by a little band of naked negro dwarfs. 

This was the greeting of a weak and puny coast tribe. What 
then might be feared from the rallying of the fierce and stalwart 
blacks of the Bantu tribes, under some ruthless chief, in the 
fastnesses of the mountain land encircling the gold of Ophir ? 

Insiza Ruins. 

Still there was an enticing trickle of gold dust and nuggets from 
inland mines to Sofala, and the flow of resplendent stories was 
vastly bigger than the golden stream in sight. So in 1569 it 
was resolved to make an extraordinary effort to penetrate to the 
source of the gold. The East African coast was placed under 
command of a governor independent of the viceroy of India. 
Francisco Barreto was made the first governor, with instructions 
to raise a force of a thousand men and lead them on to the 
capture of Ophir. The young cavaliers of Lisbon flocked 
eagerly to Barreto's standard. He led the way up the Zambesi 
with a high-spirited troop, but the gay soldiers were soon 



scorched by the sun, torn by thorns, and cast down by fevers. 
The Kalangu tribe was then the strongest of any living between 
the Sabi and Zambesi, and Barreto sought to win the good will of 
its head chief by offering to beat his rival. This offer made him 

Insiza Ruins. 

welcome, and he kept his promise, but he was soon after obliged 
to appoint Vasco Fernandez Homem to the command of his 
troop and to return to the coast. Homem soon followed him 
with the dispirited remnants of the adventurers. Barreto did 
not live to see the return of his broken expedition, and Homem 


succeeded him as governor. Then the new governor tried an- 
other way of approach to the gold field, and finally pushed a party 
through from Sofala to the foot of the mountain which the 
Kalangu tribe called Fara and the Arabs Aufur, transmuted 
forms, it was thought, of the Hebrew Ophir. Near the base 
of this mountain were placers yielding nuggets worth from two 

Insiza Ruins. 

to three thousand dollars, but the ordinary toil of placer wash- 
ing was so disgusting to the Portuguese visionaries that they 
gloomily turned their backs on the mines of Abasia and the 
rock mark of Ophir and wearily made their way back to Sofala. 1 
This disappointment dulled the glitter of some old stories, but 
there were plenty of new ones to dazzle men's minds. 

It is likely that the most accurate, as it certainly is the full- 
est extant, account of the mining in Ophir land is given in the 
story of the old Spanish author, Joano de Barros, whose life 
spans the first three quarters of the sixteenth century. 2 It is 
too much to expect that his " Da Asia " should be free from 
the coloring of the ardent fancy and the myths of the age, but 
underlying his narrative there is, at most points, a credible 
basis of personal observation and the current reports of many 
witnesses. He held several high offices in the Indian and 


1 "The Portuguese in South Africa," Theal. " Conferencias Celebradas na 
Academia Real das Sciencias de Lisboa, Acerca dos Descobrimentos e Colonisa- 
9068 dos Portuguezes na Africa." [At Lisbon, 1892.] 

"Da Asia," Joano de Barros (14961570). 


African establishments of Portugal, and had exceptional oppor- 
tunities for preparing his remarkable memorial. 

In his description the "mines of Manica" are placed "some 
fifty leagues west of Sofala." The Portuguese league was 3.84 
English miles, and De Barros was as loose as contemporary writ- 
ers in the measure of distances. " All gold found there is in 
dust," he writes, " and the workers have to carry the earth 
which they dig to some place where water can be had. Nobody 
digs more than six to seven spans deep (four to six feet), and if 
they go to twenty, they come to hard rock." 

Beyond the Manica placers, in positions not defined, were 
the mines of Boro and Quiticui. There nuggets were found 

Khami Ruins. 

" embedded in reefs some already cleared by the winter tor- 
rents ; hence, in some of the pools, such as remain in summer, 
the miners dig down and find much gold in the mud brought 
up. In other localities, where are some lagoons, two hundred 
men set at work to drain off about half the water, and in the 
mud which they sift they also find gold, and so rich is the 


ground, that if the people were industrious, great quantities 
could be had ; but they are so indolent that stress of hunger 
alone will keep them at work. Hence Moors (Arabs) who 

visit those districts 
have recourse to a 
ruse to make them 
diligent. They cover 
the negro men and 
women with clothes, 
beads, and trinkets in 
which they delight, 
and when all are 
pleased trust every- 
thing to them, telling 

Khami Ruins. 

( .J lem 

the mines, and on their return, they can pay for those advances ; 
so that in this way, by giving them credit, they oblige them to 
work, and so truthful are the negroes that they keep their word. 
" Other mines lie in the district called Toroa, ruled by a vas- 
sal of Benomotapa. These are the oldest known in that region. 
They are in a plain, in 
the middle of which 
stands a square fortress, 
all of dressed stones, 
within and without, well 
wrought and of marvel- 
lous size, without any 
lime showing the join- 
ings. The walls of this 
fortress are over twenty- 

^^^^^llf 5 ^ *9S& 


Gold Ornaments found in Ancient Ruins. 

five spans high (18 to 19 
feet) but the height is not so great compared with the thickness. 
And above the gateway of that stronghold there is an inscrip- 
tion which some learned Moorish traders who were there could 
not read nor say what writing it was. And around this build- 
ing are others on some heights, like it in the stonework, in 



which is a tower twelve bracas (72 feet) high. All these struc- 
tures the people of the country call Symbaoe, which with them 
means a royal residence. They stand west of Sofala, under 
latitude 20 and 21 south, one hundred and seventy leagues 
more or less in a straight line. ... In the opinion of the 
Moors who saw them, they seemed to be very ancient and were 

Khami Ruins. 

built there to hold possession of those mines, which are very old, 
from which for years no gold has been taken owing to the wars." 
The latitude and position of the Symbaoe of De Barros cor- 
respond closely with the site of the ruins of Zimbabwe, described 
three hundred years later by the explorer Karl Mauch. Both 
Zimbabwe and its antique form, Symbaoe, are plainly versions 
of the local Bantu nzimba-mbuie, a house of the chief. It is 
true that the Zimbabwe of Mauch is only two hundred and forty 
miles west of Sofala, but the leagues of the old chroniclers were 
not laid off with the tape line. 


Who was this Benomotapa whose vassal was housed in such a 
castle ? the mighty black sovereign of whom Camoens sings 

" Ve do Benomotapa o grande imperio, 
De Salvatica gente, negra e nua." 

In dull fact Benomotapa was simply the corrupted plural 
form of Monomotapa, signifying Lord of the Mountain, or by 
a possible stretch of derivation, Master of the Mines. 1 This 
was one of the hereditary titles of the head chief of the Kalangu 

Khami Ruins. 

tribe, the largest and strongest of any then living between the 
Sabi and Zambesi. His dwelling was at the foot of Mount 

1 "The Portuguese in South Africa," George McCall Theal. 

Bent says the name Monomotapa should be written Muene-matapa, or " lord 
of Matapa," simply " a dynastic name, just as every petty chief in Mashonaland 
to-day has his dynastic name, which he takes on succeeding to the chiefdom." 
"The Ruined Cities of Mashonaland," p. 285. Both titles have in fact the same 
meaning : the first components bena and mono being the still current Bantu words 
bwana, bana, muene, mwana, that is 'lord,' 'master,' 'chief,' 'ruler.' The 
second part, motapa, common to both, probably means a mine, from the Bantu 
word tapa='to dig,' 'excavate.' "Africa," Vol. II, p. 372. (Stanford's 
Compendium.) A, H, Keane. 



Aufur, which was held in such traditional reverence that the 
chief would not permit the Portuguese to ascend it. There was 
nothing of imposing 
splendor in the huts 
of the chief who re- 
ceived the embassy 
of Francisco Barreto, 
but no lack of evi- 
dence could prevent 
romance from creat- 
ing an African em- 
pire under the sway 
of Monomotapa. 
Some corner-stones 
for this structure were 
found in the remains 
of the works of a 
people of far higher 
civilization than any 
of the existing native 
tribes, and these relics 
were prizes to a fancy 
that clutched greedily at every drifting straw of report, tradition, 
and myth supplied by Arabs and negroes. 

Every one in the suc- 
cession of romancers, in 
the sober cloak of histo- 
rians, of South Africa 
would outdo his forerun- 
ners in inflating the bal- 
loon of the traditional 
empire. The old Dutch 
writer, Kleveer, finally 
puffed it up to the bursting limit by bounding it " on the 
east, south, and west by the Atlantic, and north by the king- 
doms of Congo, Abyssinia, and the Zanzibar country. Even 

Zimbabwe Ruins. 

Zimbabwe Ruins. 


Dapper, 1 whose really great work is by far the most important, 
comprehensive, and creditable presentation of the Africa of the 
seventeenth century, jots down gravely most fantastic details of 
the empire ruled by the royal line of Monomotapa. He paints 
a mammoth palace with four grand gateways leading to a succes- 
sion of halls and chambers, rivalling the handiwork of the slaves 
of the lamp of Aladdin. All the ceilings of the rooms were gilt 
or covered with golden plates. For the furnishing of sumptuous 

. , 



Zimbabwe Ruins. 

couches and chairs there was gilding and painting in rainbow hues 
and artful inlaying with enamel. Ivory chandeliers, hanging on 
silver chains, filled these resplendent halls with light. When his 
majesty deigned to rise from his imperial bed, he was clothed by 
his valets in garments of native silk. All his servants approached 
him on bended knees and served him like dumb slaves. His 
table service of the finest porcelain was decorated with wreaths of 
gold, cunningly wrought in the fantastic forms of natural coral. 

1 " Naukeurige Beschrijringe der Afrikaensche Gewesten," etc., Dr. O. Dap- 
per, Amsterdam, 1668. 



Zimbabwe Ruins. 

Two pounds of gold was daily spent in perfume for the royal 
nose, and torches of incense flamed day and night around him. 
When he took an airing, he was borne in a gorgeous palanquin 
on the shoulders of four of his trembling nobles, and his head 
was shielded from the profaning sun by a canopy studded with 
precious stones. If he was impatient of this slow promenade, he 

Zimbabwe Ruins. 


might mount on an elephant's back, but on nothing meaner, for 
nobody in that wonderful country would ride on any other animal. 
It is small wonder that the court of monarchs of this splen- 
dor, and their golden cities of Davaque and Vigiti Magna, were 
ardently hunted for by adventurers, thirsty for every romance 
gilding the dismal stretches of sand and thickets and rocks 
which encircled them with the threads of a trail to the glittering 
realm of Monomotapa. But the expeditions of Barreto and 

Homem were so painful, costly, 
and discouraging that for many 
years no more explorations were 
undertaken by the Portuguese 
crown. The spirit of chivalric 
adventure drooped low after the 
gallant young king Sebastian 
fell in battle with the Moors 
in 1578, and even the spirit 
that had so greatly spread the 
commerce of Portugal was los- 
ing its vigor. There was a 
momentary arousal in the be- 
ginning of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, when some rich silver ore 
was sent to Lisbon by the 
governor of Mozambique. It 
was believed that this ore came 
from veins in a region called the 
Kingdom of Chicova, stretch- 
ing north from the bank of the Zambesi: but there was no 


definite report of the location. Still there was such an impulse 
in the sight of this silver that the order was sent to despatch 
five hundred soldiers to Chicova. No such force could be 
mustered, but Nuno Alvares Pereira set out from Mozambique 
with a hundred men. Soon Pereira was the victim of jeal- 
ous maligning, and was superseded in his command by Diogo 
Sinoes Madeira. This commander succeeded in placing a few 

Zimbabwe Ruins. 



trading stations along the Zambesi, and made a pretence of 
opening mines by shipping some little silver to Portugal ; but 

Zimbabwe Ruins. 

after a dozen years of costly maintenance, it was shown by the 
search of Pereira that the pretended discovery of silver was a 

Zimbabwe Ruins. 

fraud, and disgusted Portugal abandoned the enterprise in I622. 1 

1 "The Portuguese in South Africa," Theal. 


From that year nothing of note was attempted from the 
stretch of seaboard loosely held by a few feeble garrisons. 
Beyond the vague traditions and romances there were no guide- 
books to the rich realm of any African monarch, and there was 
no point on the South African coast outside of the Portuguese 
strip where the least enticement was shown to any visiting ship. 
Nowhere was there any evidence of an approach to civiliza- 
tion, and there was not even the gilding of barbarism. The 

shore tribes 
were filthy, 
negroes, who 
had, at most, a 
little ivory or 
a handful of 
feathers to bar- 
ter for trinkets. 
There was an 
intermixture of 
blood and a 
medley of 
tribes and tribal 
names that 

confounds any tracing of distinction beyond a few blurred divi- 
sional lines. 

When the Dutch and English began to tread upon the heels 
of the Portuguese in Africa, in the opening years of the seven- 
teenth century, the tribes of the extreme south and along the 
southwesterly Atlantic coast might be roughly grouped under the 
name of Hottentots, or, as they called themselves with monstrous 
conceit, Kwa-Kwa, men of men. In this assertion there is 
plainly to be seen the origin of the Arabic Vakvak, the name 
sketched in by Edrisi on his map beyond Sofala. The south- 
east African coast was held by tribes of the wide-spreading 
Bantu family, lumped together by the Arabs as Kafirs. Filtered 
in between the Bantus and Hottentots were the pigmy Sana, 

Zimbabwe Ruins. 



rudely bunched as Bushmen. 1 There was endless wrangling 
and fighting among the tribes, regardless of any common flow 
of blood, and the Bantus and Hottentots were continually clash- 
ing like wildcats. Their only union was in their hate of the 
Bushmen, who were hunted 
from cover to cover, to hide 
in crevices in the rocks or in 
holes in the desert sand, from 
which they might sally, wasp- 
like, with the deadly sting 
of their poison-tipped arrows. 
In view of the repulsive 
face of the South African 
coast lands it is not surpris- 
ing that Francis Drake and 
many other bold voyagers 
circled the Cape of Good 
Hope without landing to 
seek for traditional treasures. 
But with the opening of the 
seventeenth century, Table The Old East India House - Leadenhaii street, 

' London. 

Bay became a regular stop- 
ping place and refitting station for the ships of the English East 
India Company. For twenty years this slight hold on the con- 
tinent was maintained, but it was so lightly prized that it was 
dropped in 1620 by a shift of the station to St. Helena. Thirty- 
two years later the Dutch East India Company took formal 
possession of the Cape and its adjoining bay without any chal- 
lenging protest, and built their fort Good Hope as the first 
stronghold of the Dutch dominion in southern Africa. With 
this foundation the search for the golden realm of Monomotapa 
was vigorously and persistently revived. 

Jan van Riebeeck, the leader of the Dutch colonizing expe- 
dition and the first commandant of the fort and settlement at 

1 "South Africa," George McCall Theal, London, 1888-1893. 
African Tribes," Sutherland. 

f < South 


Cape Town, was a man of ardent spirit and uncommon energy. 
He had entered the company's service as a surgeon's assistant, 
but his ambition and ability had soon pushed him to the front 
and marked him as a man to fix and strengthen the grip of the 
great trading company on the turning-point of the way to the 
Indies. In his portrait dark, sanguine eyes are set under a 
high, full forehead, crowned with thick waving hair of a cavalier 
cut, in keeping with his trim mustache. His well-moulded 
features and resolute chin have the stamp of refinement as well 
as action. He quickly put his hand to every practical device to 
make the new settlement productive and self-supporting. Nine 
months after his landing the first crop of wheat was reaped at 
the Cape. In the following year he set out vines from the 
Rhine. In his own vineyard the muscatel grape grew luxuri- 

The Landing of van Riebeeck, 7th April, 1652. 

antly, and a few years later he made the first Cape wine, a high- 
flavored Constantia. In the same year, 1658, maize was brought 
to the colony from the coast of Guinea and successfully planted. 
To the introduction of the olive, particularly urged by the direc- 
tors of his company, he gave unremitting pains, and succeeded 
in rearing a fine grove of fruitful trees on his own plantation at 
Wynberg. In his stretch of experiment he even tamed young 
ostriches and stocked the neighboring islands with rabbits. 1 

Such a man was not likely to be heedless of the chances for 

*" South Africa," Theal. "On Veld and Farm," Frances MacNab, 
London, 1897. 


the possible enrichment of his company by penetrating to the 
seat of the traditional empire and possibly to King Solomon's 
mines. He reckoned that, in any event, his exploring parties 
would be likely to succeed in uncovering ore beds of some use- 
ful metal, if not of gold and silver. But he seems to have had 
great confidence in the traditions of Monomotapa, and it is 
known that he had before him the highly colored work of 
the Dutch traveller and author, Linschoten, as well as current 

Portrait of Johan Antonyse van Riebeeck. 
First Commandant of the Cape of Good 
Hope. Born 1618, died January 18, 

Portrait of Maria de la Querellerie of Que- 
rellerius, Wife of Johan Antonyse van 
Riebeeck. Born October 28, 1629, died 
November 2, 1664. 

Portuguese books infused with the romance of Africa. His 
calculation plotted the location of Davaque, the chief seat of 
the splendors of Monomotapa, at a point 828 miles N.E. of 
the Cape of Good Hope, and 322 miles W. from the Indian 
Ocean, curiously near the present Witwatersrand. Davaque 
was built by tradition on the banks of the river Spirito Sanctu, 
flowing into the Indian Ocean at Delagoa Bay. Nearer still 
to the Cape was another El Dorado, the city of Vigiti Magna, 
which was confidently located on or near the meridian of 30 S., 
and not much more than three hundred miles from the Cape. 


The first push into the unknown land north of Fort Good 
Hope was made in 1657 by a little party headed by Abraham 
Gabbema, Fiscal, and Secretary of the Council of the colony. 
Gabbema led the way to the first big beacon in sight, a peak 
with a grotesque flat top which the colonists had already chris- 
tened Klapnuits, or night cap mountain. Skirting the base of 
this peak he pushed to the next conspicuous landmark, bearing 
toward the west, a mountain with bare rugged pinnacles of rock, 
which the explorers dully called Great Berg, and gave the same 
name to the river flowing below. 

Wine Cellar, Groot Constantia. 

It was in the middle of October when the party set out, but 
this was the prime of the springtime in South Africa. On the 
lower slopes of the Great Berg herds were grazing that had 
never seen the face of a white man nor felt the sting of a bullet. 


Zebras capered over the hillsides, the unwieldy rhinoceros wal- 
lowed in the high grass, and hippopotami plunged and snorted 
in the turbid rivers. Every step of the way was a new wonder- 
ment to the explorers, and when the rising sun struck the moun- 
tain tops with its flame, two transfigured peaks gleamed like 
prodigious gems in their eyes, and were forthwith distinguished 


as Paarl and Diamant. These sunlit crests were the only things 
in sight, however, that had any glitter of the realm of Mono- 
motapa, and after a little further advance into the unknown field, 
Gabbema's party turned back. 

The next excursion was more daring. By promising rich 
rewards van Riebeeck formed a party of thirty volunteers headed 
by Jan Danckert. They took along a small stock of bread on 
three pack oxen, relying for their main supply of food on the game 
which they might kill on their way. These hardy volunteers 
plodded north, inclining to the west along the foot of the coast 
range. They saw whirlwinds of dust and a few roving Bushmen, 
but nowhere any trace of a monarchy except what they called " A 
Kingdom of Moles," where the burrowed ground sank under 
their feet and they could hardly flounder along. In December 
they reached a river flowing toward the Atlantic, on whose far- 
ther shore they saw a herd of more than two hundred elephants 
feeding. So they called the stream Olifants River, a name 
which it has borne since that day, and trudged back wearily to 
tell their story to the commandant at the Cape. Within ten 
days after their return, January 20, 1661, van Riebeeck, the un- 
tiring, mustered another party, of thirteen adventurers and two 
Hottentot attendants, and sent them away on the track of the 
discoverers of Olifants River. 

Corporal Pieter Cruythof led off this party, which succeeded 
in crossing the river of the elephants and reaching the land of 
the Namaquas, a Hottentot tribe of the highest class. Here the 
explorers found natives who had rude copper ornaments twisted 
in tufts of their hair, and wore rings of copper and ivory on 
their arms. They entertained the white visitors with cheering 
hospitality and gave a grand dance in honor of the embassy. 
This was the nearest approach to the civilization of the tra- 
ditional empire that had hitherto been reached by Dutch ex- 
ploration, and the return of the adventurers on March n, 
1 66 1, after forty days' wandering, was warmly welcomed by van 

Before two weeks had passed he had another excursion under 


way led by Corporal Meerhoff, which penetrated into Namaqua- 
land farther than any white man had ever gone, but brought 
back bitterly discouraging reports. It was learned that the 
Namaquas had uncovered some veins of copper and iron ore 
and had some crude process of smelting and working both 
metals, but it did not appear to be practicable to undertake to 
open mines at points so far from the Cape in a region that for 
many months in the year was a torrid desert. There was no 
trace of gold or rumor even of any distant land of gold. Over 
every day's march was the hanging terror of death by thirst or 
hunger or savage attack. 

Still the unflagging commandant would not give up the 
search, and in the following November Corporal Meerhoff 
went back with another party of volunteers to Namaqualand, as 
second in command under Sergeant Pieter Everaert. This 
expedition was better equipped for exploration than any previ- 
ous one that had set out from the Cape, and it was three months 
before it returned to the Fort. Yet it had nothing new to 
tell only to repeat the same dreary story of painful tramps 
over sun-scorched sands and jagged ridges of rock, of blinding 
whirls of dust and the blare and clash and drench of terrific 
thunder-storms, of sleep broken by nightly alarms, of lurking 
Bushmen and prowling lions. One of the party had been gored 
and trampled to pulp by an elephant, and his comrades counted 
themselves lucky in reaching the Cape fort empty-handed, 
gaunt, and footsore. 

Even after this sickening rebuff, the next year saw a renewal 
of the attempt to reach the elusive empire of Monomotapa. 
Then Sergeant Jonas de la Guerre set out with a little troop of 
adventurers not yet disheartened. But they were not able to 
push their search into Namaqualand as far as former explorers 
had gone, for they could not find a mouthful of water in the 
desert sands, and were in imminent peril of dying from thirst. 
This repulse was a crushing blow to the stubborn spirit that had 
borne so many buffets. The enterprising van Riebeeck had 
been transferred to the government of Java in the previous year, 


and his successor was a man of much fainter heart and energy. 
So for nearly a score of years the search for the traditional 
empire lagged, although there was a considerable show of less 
venturesome prospecting. One notable undertaking was the 
despatch of a party of expert assayers and miners from the 
Netherlands to Cape Town in 1669 by the Dutch East India 
Company, with instructions to search for any promising outcrops 
of ore in the region of the Cape. This party prospected for 
several years, but found nothing to inspire any investment in 
mining. 1 

A revival of the dazzling old visions came in 1681, with the 
appearance at the Cape of a party of Namaquas bearing pieces 
of rich copper ore. This exhibit spurred the East India Com- 
pany to direct another exploration of Namaqualand. Then the 
commandant at the Cape was a man of the stamp of van Rie- 
beeck, commander Simon van der Stel. 2 He was quick to 
despatch a company of thirty soldiers, a draughtsman, and a 
reporter to make the venture so often tried in vain. Again, after 
months of struggle, the desert drove them back. Van der Stel 
then resolved to make an effort far surpassing any put forth 
before by adventurers from the Cape. He formed a party of 
forty-two white men, soldiers, miners, and draughtsmen, with ten 
Hottentot servants and guides. The expedition was provisioned 
for four months, and equipped with two boats, a train of wagons, 
several horses, and a herd of pack oxen. Ensign Olaf Bergh 
was put in command and led his company on to Namaqualand. 
But it was the same old story. No strength of men or oxen 
availed against the desert. No rain had fallen in the wilderness 
north of the Olifants River for twelve months, and the whole 
region was an arid waste without a trickle of moisture. So 
Bergh and his companions faced about in despair, and marched 
back to report their failure. Sergeant Izaak Schuyver and 
another forlorn-hope party tried their luck in the following 
year, and pushed over the desert a little farther than Bergh, but 
brought nothing back except a sack of copper ore on a pack ox. 

1 "South Africa," Theal, Vols. I and 2. 

2 Commander from I2th October, 1679, to 1st June, 1691. 


As a last resort the unflinching commander van der Stel 
resolved to head an exploring party himself. He obtained 
special permission from the directors of the East India Com- 
pany, and his expedition was ordered in keeping with his distinc- 
tion as the head of the Dutch power at the Cape, and with the 
labors and perils of the venture. He left the Castle of Good 
Hope, August 25, 1685, with fifty-six white followers and a 
troop of Hottentot attendants. Twenty-three wagons and carts 
were packed with supplies. Besides the draught teams, there 
were two hundred spare oxen, thirteen horses, and eight mules. 
For the dignity and comfort of the commander there was a 
coach, but this touch of parade was chiefly introduced to impress 
the native tribes and possibly a negro emperor with the grandeur 
of the sovereignty despatching such an embassy. 

The time of year chosen for the start was precisely the same 
as that picked for the expedition of Bergh two years before, but 
the difference in the face of the country would amaze any one 
who had never seen the magic of rain-falls on South African 
deserts. Fresh, juicy grass and vernal flowers were sprouting 
from a soil of seemingly lifeless sand. Birds were building 
their nests in the leafy thickets, insects were creeping or buzzing 
in swarms, and a myriad of butterflies were fluttering their gay 
wings over the green sward and blossoms. After years of 
drought there had come a season of heavy rains. The arid 
sands were soaked, torrents foamed through the windings of 
the dry water-courses, and the region north of Olifants River, 
which had been an impassable barrier to so many explorers, was 
quite easily penetrated by the cumbrous procession of van der 
Stel. Van der Stel's first farm, " Constantia," was near Wyn- 
berg, where he resided until he resigned and retired to his estate, 
" Vergelegen." The fine old houses, " Constantia " and " Verge- 
legen," are still some of the landmarks of these sturdy old Dutch 
settlers. They planted avenues of oaks, camphor trees, and 
pines, which to-day tend to make Cape Town and its environs 
one of the most charming spots on the face of the earth. The 
old picture of van der Stel's house, " Vergelegen," shows it 




unflinching commander van der Stel 

i.-ring party him -c it". He obtained 

- directors of the Fast India Com- 

\vi ; ordered in keeping with his distinc- 

p iwer at the Cape, and with the 

He left the Cast Is of Good 

r h fifty-six white followers and a 

Twenty-three wagons and carts 

ik.>!des tlie draught teams, there 

en horses, and eight mules. 

."inturt ! tiu' ">unander there was a 

ot parade was icri\ introduced to impress 

' possibly a negro empi r with the grandeur 

i.:es|utching such an embassy. 

v-hosen tor t'u- start w^. precisely the same 
.xpc.lri'.n of Itr f-\rs before, but 

Farmhouse on the Farm Groot Cohstahtist.'rtear Wynberg. The first residence 
of Simon van der Stel, and now owned by the Cape Government. Tfife n 
farm is celebrated for its wine.;'^ lifeless sand. were building 
:itv thvkcrs, insects wen: < reeping or buzzing 
'.rterrlies w-cre fluttering their gay 
- .irti and blossoms. After years of 
.0 ison of heavy rains. The arid 
M';ik' f'-'amed through r . *jgs of 

i ti: region north River, 

barrier to so n\ rers, was 

cumbrous pr u f van der 

rst farm, *' C"onsran:\. > near Wyn- 

liv- rcsi^Mcd ar.d i. -'.;, d to his estate, 
>ld houses, "( on>rantia " and " Verge- 
udmarks of th^se sturdy old Dutch 
or oaks, camphor trees, and 
,l;u tend fo tn.ike C. .qn 1 Tou n anJ its environs 
harmincr ^pors or the f;uv of the earth. The 
>- in der Sre!\ house, 4l ' \\r^c-i"-jen," shows it 




partly hidden by a huge camphor tree, which measures nine feet 
in diameter. 

As the expedition advanced, it found various promising 
showings of copper ore, and the croppings were particularly rich 
in a range lying a little below the meridian of 30 S., where one 
peak was singled out as " copper mountain." Van der Stel had 
succeeded in reaching the line of the supposed location of the 
golden city of Vigiti Magna, and he pushed his search along 


this line to the Atlantic, but he could nowhere pick up a trace 
of the traditional city or any other vestige of the realm of 
Monomotapa. He did not even meet with any strange mon- 
sters or romantic adventures, except perhaps the charge of a 
huge rhinoceros, which upset his coach and forced him to fly for 
his life. After six months of travel his notable exploring party 
came back to the Cape, without any tidings of good cheer to 
the founders of the colony. The only relic of the tradition of 
empire left in the lands it had traversed was the attaching of the 
name of Vigiti Magna to the great river first shown on any map 
in the chart of this exploration. It had found rich copper ore 
in Namaqualand, but the deposits were too far from the base 


of transportation and supply to warrant the undertaking of 
mining. 1 

Van der Stel was fitly rewarded, four years later, by an ap- 
pointment as the first governor of the Cape Colony, in recog- 
nition of his exploring enterprise and other displays of energy ; 
but his pricking of the painted bubble of Vigiti Magna was a 
bitter disappointment to the Dutch East India Company, and a 
grievous thing to all adventurers filled with the conceit of a cen- 
tury of tradition. It was true that Davaque or some other glit- 
tering city might lie farther to the east and north than any point 
yet reached by Dutch explorers, but with the growing familiarity 
with the land and natives of southern Africa there was a swelling 
discredit of the fine tales of the Dutch and Portuguese roman- 
cers. The myth of the realm of Monomotapa was practically 
starved to death at the close of the seventeenth century, and 
unfortunately the greatly persistent daring of the Dutch explor- 
ers grew cold with its impulse. When adventurers began to 
disbelieve in the marvellous empire and even doubt the location 
of the mines of Solomon and the throne of Sheba, there was no 
very potent lure in the dusty karroos and rocky ravines of South 
Africa* No discovery of ore, except possibly of the precious 
metals, was likely to be of any reward to a prospector, and it 
was even questionable whether rich veins of gold or silver could 
be successfully opened and worked at any considerable dis- 
tance beyond the narrow range of the Dutch settlement at the 

So the credulous search for Ophir and the mythical realms in 
Africa came to an end, and for more than one hundred and fifty 
years there was little life in the tradition of King Solomon's 
mines, until its embers were rekindled by the daring advances 
and glowing fancies of the intrepid explorer, Karl Mauch. In 
1858 Mauch marked the Lydenburg district as a probable gold- 

1 "South Africa," George McCall Theal, Vol. I, pp. 370-380. 

These copper mines came into possession of an English company known as 
the Cape Copper Company in 1853, since which time copper to the value of 
^11,000,000 has been produced. 


7 1 

field, and in 1871 he won the honor of reaching and first clearly 
describing the extraordinary ruins of Zimbabwe and its adjacent 
gold-fields. Unfortunately for his credit as an archaeologist he 
insisted on the fancy that the old building on the hill was a copy 
of King Solomon's temple on Mount Moriah and that the lower 
ruins reproduced the palace inhabited by the Queen of Sheba 
during her stay of several years in Jerusalem. 1 This does not 
impair, however, the probable accuracy of his main contention 


that he had revealed part of the ancient workings of the people 
who furnished the flow of gold to Arabia and Judaea in the days 
of King Solomon. 2 

^'The Ruined Cities of Mashonaland," J. Theodore Bent, London, 

2 " It was really (Adam) Renders who first discovered these ruins three 
years before Mauch saw them, though Mauch and Baines first published them to 
the world, and they only described what the old Portuguese writers talked of 
hundreds of years ago." E. A. Maund, " Geo. Proc.," February, 1891, 
p. 105. 


Entrance to Boschendal. 

The extent of these old workings has been proved beyond 
doubt by the reports of Hartley, Mauch, Baines, Nelson, and 
later explorers, and a precise and graphic study of Zimbabwe and 

other ancient structures 
in Mashonaland was 
made in 1891-92 by J. 
Theodore Bent and his 
associates in the expedi- 
tion chiefly promoted by 
the Royal Geographical 
Society, the British Char- 
tered Company of South 
Africa, and the British 
Association for the Ad- 
vancement of Science. Bent's expedition located Zimbabwe in 
latitude 20 16' 30" south, longitude 31 7' 30" east; slightly 
differing from the position given by Mauch. 1 Bent holds that 
Zimbabwe is of Abantu origin and may be freely translated 
" Here is the great kraal," 
meaning the kraal of the 
native head chief of the dis- 
trict. This name, however, 
marked only the native occu- 
pation of the buildings, and 
Bent sees in the ancient ruins 
and workings " evidence of a 
cult known to Arabia and 
Phoenicia alike, temples built 
on accurate mathematical prin- 
ciples, containing kindred 
objects of art, methods of 
producing gold known to 
have been employed in the ancient world, and evidence of a 
vast population devoted to the mining of gold." 

1 " List of Stations in Mashonaland astronomically observed, with Altitudes," 
by Robert M. W. Swan. 







Without entering into the varied researches supporting the 
views of Schlechter, Keane, and other leading authorities, it may 
be observed that the main conclusions pithily summarized by 

Professor Keane are strongly 
backed. Ophir was not a 
source of gold, but its dis- 
tributer, as the port on the 
south coast of Arabia through 
which the flow of gold came 
by sea. It is identified with 
the Moscha or Portus Nobilis 
of the Greek and Roman 

Havilah was the land 
whence came the gold of 
Ophir, a great tract in 
southeastern Africa, lying 
north of the Limpopo and largely identified with the range of 
the modern Rhodesia. The ancient gold workings of this region 
were first opened by 
the South Arabian 
Himyarites, who 
were followed (but 
not before the time 
of Solomon) by the 
Phoenicians, and 
these very much later 
by the Moslem 
Arabs. Tharshish 
was the outlet for 
the precious metals 
and stones of Havi- 
lah, and stood probably on the present site of Sofala. The 
Queen of Sheba came by land and not ovef the seas to the 
court of Solomon. Her kingdom was Yemen, the Arabia Felix 
of the ancients. 

Lekkerwijn. (Back view.) 



Bien Donne, Drakensteiti. 

In a word, the "Gold of Ophir" came from Havilah 
(Rhodesia), and was worked and brought thence first by the 
Himyarites (Sabaeans and 
Minseans), later by the Phoe- 
nicians, the chief ports engaged 
in the traffic being Ezion-geber 
in the Red Sea, Tharshish in 
Havilah, and midway between 
the two, Ophir in South 
Arabia. 1 

For sixty years from the 
opening of the eighteenth cen- 
tury there was no considerable 
exploration, or even prospect- 
ing of any consequence, in the 
region north of the meridian 


passing through the Olifants 
River. Yet even in this ap- 
'A. H. Keane. 

Monomotapa, The Hon. A.Wilmot, 1896. 

Overmantel and Old Dutch Relics. (Lekkerwijn.) 


Bien Donn6, Drakenstein. 

parent cessation of enterprise there was a continuous progress, 
almost essential to the successful advance of later exploration. 
The Dutch settlement at the Cape was expanding. Year after 
year pioneer settlers pushed out farther from the Castle, moving 

up the river valleys, and cling- 
ing at first to the base of hill 
ranges where the essential sup- 
ply of water was most surely 
attainable. After the taking up 
of the choice locations, later 
comers passed on over the open 
veld, and it was seen that there 
were large tracts of land, un- 
suited to agriculture, which 
would serve well as ranges for 
cattle and shee^>. 

For many years, however, 
the raising of wheat was of prime 
Donne, Urakenstein. importance in the eyes of the 



Dutch farmers ; for this product fetched the highest price rela- 
tively, and any surplus was eagerly called for by ships that 

touched at the Cape or by the 

demand for the supply of East 

Indian settlements. In 1685 

the first export of grain was 

shipped, and strenuous efforts 

were made to extend the area 

of land in cultivation. A bo- 
tanic garden had been one of 

the early undertakings of the 

company, to serve as a nursery 

for European, East Indian, and 

native plants, and under the 

direction of Commander van der 

Stel this nursery was made the 

pride of the Cape as an exhibit 

as well as a very serviceable 

source of supply of seeds and 

plants for the garden and farm lands. The growth of the olive 

had been particularly urged, and it seemed at first to be likely 

to flourish, but the 
success of the grove 
of van Riebeeck was 
not attained by plant- 
ers generally. There 
was a considerable 
advance in vine plant- 
ing and the produc- 
tion of wine, and in 
1672 the distillation 
of brandy was begun. 

Doorway, Palmeit Vallei. J t was hoped that the 

Cape wine could be made an export of consequence, but the taste 
of the Dutch planters preferred a sweet, strong fermentation to 
clear, light wines, and they lacked the skill or the strong desire 

Farm House, Klein Drakenstein. 


to modify their product to compete with French vine growers. 1 
So the only considerable consumption of Cape wine, outside of 

the colony, was 
from the crews of 
visiting vessels. 

There was no 
lagging on the 
part of the East 
India Company in 
efforts to stimu- 
late the industries 
of their colony. 
Upon the revoca- 
tion of the edict 


A Wine Farm at Klein Drakenstein. 

28, 1685) by Louis XIV., the steadfast Huguenots were forced 
to seek new homes in foreign lands, and many were cordially 
encouraged and aided to pass over sea to the young Cape Colony. 

Muller's Farm, Achter Paarl. 

Their expert knowledge of the growth of the vine and olive was 

highly valued, and it was also desired to bring in tanners, har- 

1 " On Veld and Farm," Frances MacNab. 



Dutch Farm House. 

ness makers, wheelwrights, metal workers, and other artisans of 
essential service to the spreading settlements of farmers. In 
the allotments of land special care was taken to distribute 
the influx of foreign blood 
so that it must necessarily 
fuse with the main body of 
settlers. This design was so 
well carried out that in a few 
generations the only abso- 
lutely distinct survival of 
this Huguenot migration was 
the perpetuation of the old 
French family names. But 
the combination of these two 
strong strains of blood made 
a compound of remarkable 

Besides this promoted Muller's Farm, Achter Paarl. 



immigration of men 
there was an equally 
shrewd effort on the 
part of the company to 
advance the breeding 
of horses, cattle, and 
sheep. Stallions were 
imported from Persia 
to improve the stock, 
which had been falling 
off in size and quality 
though increasing in 
number. Spanish rams 
were used to lay the 
foundation of the South 
African breed of meri- 
nos, and the Angora 
goats bore transplacing 

Palmeit Vallei, Klein Drakenstein. excellently, and SOOtt 

browsed greedily on the coarse grasses of the Cape. 

By the advances of the voortrekkers or pioneer farmers the 
range of settlement was extended so far in 1761 that the start of 

D ' 

Muller's Farm, Achter Paarl. 



Mooi Kelder, Lower Paarl. 

the first large exploring party since the return of the van der 
Stel expedition was made in that year from a rendezvous near 
the mouth of Olifants River. This party was led by Captain 
Hendrik Hop of the burgher militia, and was made up of seven- 
teen whites and 
sixty-eight half- 
breed Hottentot 
servants. It 
started in August 
and advanced on 
the track of the 
former expedi- 
tion, passing the 
Copper Moun- 
tains of Little Plaisis de Merle, Groot Drakenstein. 

Namaqualand, and reaching the river Vigiti Magna on Septem- 
ber 29. This river was familiarly called by the colonists the 
Groote (Great) River, and held this name until both the tradi- 



tional and common names were supplanted by a new christening 
in 1779, when Colonel Robert Jacob Gordon, commanding the 

garrison at Cape Castle, led 
another expedition up the 
river, and named it Orange 
in honor of the stadtholder. 

Hop's exploring party met 
a troup of giraffes soon after 
crossing the Groote River, 
and won the distinction of 
furnishing the first skin of a 
giraffe from South Africa to 
the Museum of the Univer- 
sity of Leyden. But except- 
ing this novel chase there was 
little to attract the explorers. 
The sun scorched them relent- 

Donkerhoek, Groot Drakenstein. i i i i i 

lessly in the open desert, and 

they could nowhere find water except in the deep sand-pits dug 
by the roving natives. Sometimes there was a shallow puddle 
at the bottom of 
one of these pits, 
and even when the 
sand was barely 
moist, further dig- 
ging to the under- 
lying stone would 
sometimes yield a 
trickle of water. 
Still they pushed 
on stubbornly to 
the farthest point 

Vet reached from A Wine Cellar. Herd of Cape Goats. 

the Cape, in latitude 26 18' S., before turning back to bring 
home their discouraging story. 

It was thirty years before this advance was outstripped by 


M) AilNK.s Of v it > ML A 

:e\v christening 
. ommanding the 
( "ape -Castle, led 

ffet expedition up the 

and named it Orange 
:>ur of the stadtholder. 

op's exploring party met 
. /p of giraffes soon after 
the Groote River, 
T, the distinction of 
^he first skin of a 
^outh Africa to 
f the Univer- 
But except- 

i f there was 


lem relent- 
^eNrrt, and 

V- " 

g b;i.k to bring 
'- Outstripped by 

or THE 




Willem van Reenen, of the farm Zeekoevlei on the Olifants 
River. This adventurous farmer set out in 1791 with four 
fellow colonists and a number of Hottentot servants, and reached 
on the 1 8th of November the end of the trek of Captain 
Hop's party. Prowling Bushmen and lions beset their camps 
continually, and in January, 1799, they had to beat off a fierce 
swoop of a party 
of Namaquas. Yet 
they pressed on 
until March 14, 
when they came 
to a little oasis 
which they named 
Modder Fontein, 
or muddy spring. 
Then they turned 
back after a few 
days' rest, and 
plodded home to 
the farm Zeekoe- 
vlei, which they 
reached on the 
2Oth of June. 
They had killed 
sixty-five rhinoc- 
eros and six 
giraffes, without 
reckoning their 
bag of smaller game, and brought back exultantly wagon loads 
of copper ore, which they supposed to be gold until their hopes 
were blighted by assayers at the Cape. 1 

The depressing reports from these expeditions were not the 

least of the straws that finally broke the back of the Dutch East 

India Company. For nearly a century and a half their colony 

in South Africa had been a continual drain and burden. All 

1 " South Africa," George McCall Theal. 

Tatr, 1757. 

8 4 


An Old Farm House, Lower Paarl. 

the expedients and efforts of the energetic directors of the com- 
pany in the seventeenth century, and such faithful servants as 
van Riebeeck and van der Stel, had failed to develop any mines 
or any product for export of any considerable importance. With 

the beginning of the 
eighteenth century there 
was an evident drooping 
in the enterprise of the 
company, and a drift 
toward hopeless discour- 
agement, which culmi- 
nated in 1794 with the 
declaration of bankruptcy. 
The company's debt was 
; 1 0,000,000 sterling, 
and its credit was utterly exhausted. It could no longer under- 
take even to maintain a feeble garrison at the Castle for the 
defence of its colony. Issues of depreciated and irredeemable 
paper had driven out all gold and silver from circulation at 
the Cape. Debts could be paid in this paper, which was legal 
tender, but nobody would receive it in exchange for goods 
except at such a discount that there was a general resort to 
barter. Internal trade was para- 
lyzed, and a little wheat, wine, 
and tallow was all that could be 
squeezed out of the colony for 
export to Java and India. The 
straggling settlers on the north- 
ern frontier were continually 

fighting with the IshmaelitC Farm House, Achter Paarl. 

Bushmen, and the Kafirs on the northeast were still more 
harassing and formidable. Every kraal was a rude fort and 
every family a garrison. Ammunition was growing scarce and 
costly, and there was no hope of succor from the Castle at the 

In view of this patent collapse, the stretching out of the 


strong arm of Great Britain to seize the Cape in 1795 should 
have been as welcome as rescue to a wreck. Then for the first 
time a power took hold of the way station of East Indian trade, 
and its straggling offshoots, that had the strength and the skill 
and the far-reaching conception to 
do more than repress savage on- 
slaughts and defend grazing 
grounds, to open great mines, 
to convert arid karroos into irri- 
gated plantations, to extend the 
network of railways, and stretch 
in time the steel band of civiliza- 
tion across the darkest zone of 
Africa. This Britannia has done 
and is doing, either in her imperial 
way, or by the hands of the sons 
who have labored to make her 

Brand Solder (Fire Loft). For the 
prevention of fire. 


But the coming of this saving 
and transforming power had the appearance, at the time, of a 
hostile attack. The Netherlands, in 1793, were wholly under 
the thumb of the new French republic, and war was declared 
against Great Britain through controlling French influence. 
There had been some revolting against the further collection 

of taxes by officers of 
the East India Com- 
pany, but the colonists 
as a body did not want 
any foreign interference. 
So the little garrison in 
the Castle at the Cape 
put on a defiant front, 
and rallied to its support 
a number of burgher volunteers when a strong British fleet sailed 
into Table Bay in the first week of September, 1795. It was ap- 
parent, however, even to the boldest Dutch defender, that resist- 



ance was hopeless, and Cape Town, with its castle and garrison, 
surrendered to Admiral Sir George Elphinstone and General Sir 
Alured Clarke, on the sixteenth of September. So was ended 
one hundred and forty-three years of rule of the Dutch East 
India Company, and from this date British ascendancy in South 
Africa began. There was a brief intermission, it is 
true, some years later, when the treaty of Amiens 

(1802) transferred the 
Colony to the Ba- 
tavian Republic. 
But the breaking 
out of war again 
in the following 
year ruptured the 
treaty, and ex- 
posed the Cape 
Colony again to the hazard of capture, which actually followed 
early in January, 1806, when Cape Town was retaken by Major 
General David Baird. From that time the Cape was held con- 
tinuously by the strong arm until the convention at London, 
August 13, 1814, when all claims of the Netherlands to South 
Africa were extinguished by cession, and Great Britain became the 
heir of all the Dutch advances from the Cape of Good Hope. 1 

1 " South Africa," George McCall Theal. "Precis of the Archives of the 
Cape of Good Hope," H. C. V. Leibbrandt. "South Africa," Augustus Henry 
Keane. "Heroes of South African Discovery," N. D'Anvers (Henry Bell). 

Fort Good Hope. 

:'t wsiV A 


::istie an ' garrison, 

'Stone and General Sir 

Briber. So was ended 

ruie of the Dutch East 

;sh ascendancy in South 

a brief intermission, it is 

^hen the treaty of Amiens 

iiSo2) transferred the 

|i . a Colony to the Ba- 

tavian Republic. 

But the breaking 

out of war again 

'i the following 

- ruptured the 

and ex- 

rhc Cape 

: i! lowed 

A View from the Kloof Road leading from the Upper Part of Cape 


S;H- v,;s held con- 

.(.;,ti(n at London, 

\erht-rlands to South 

rat Britain became the 

t-f Good Hope. 1 

' the Archives of the 
-iia," Augustus Henry 
* A livers '.Henry Bell).. 





HEN Lord Charles Somerset came to the Cape 
as the first Governor of the Colony after the 
cession, how slight and infirm was the hold of 
any civilization on the indurated barbarism 
of the vast expanse of Africa south of the 
equator! In the three hundred years that had 
passed since Vasco Da Gama made known the bounds of the 
continent, the outer rim of the traditional Ophir land had barely 
been pierced. From the Atlantic side the Portuguese had not 
pushed beyond a fringe of trading posts on the Lower Guinea 
coast, and were clinging feebly to insignificant stations along the 
shores of the Mozambique channel: The Dutch grip was more 
obstinate, in spite of all disappointments, but the range of their 
advance was only a few hundred miles from the Cape, and out- 
side of Cape Town the population was a mere sprinkling on the 
face of the land. When the British first wrested the Cape from 
the Dutch, Earl Macartney, who held the government in 1797, 
defined by proclamation the bounds of the Colony. It only ran 
east to the Great Fish River and on the north to the Zuurberg 
Mountains and the southern edge of Bushman's land, trending 
up to the Kamiesberg, and thence along the coast to Buffels 
River in Little Namaqualand. The total extent was roughly 
120,000 square miles, merely the extreme tip of South Africa, 
and the entire population, both white and black, was reported 
to be less than 62,000, or about one person to every two square 
miles. This was a petty fringe on the skirt of the dark continent. 
Not only was the Colony weak in numbers, but it was seem- 
ingly without any uplifting leaven of enterprise and ambition. 



For generations the Dutch settler had been treading in the foot- 
steps of his forefathers without any wish to stride ahead. What 
they had done, he would do if he could. No new way of work- 
ing or living or thinking was as good to his mind as the old way. 
The pioneer farmer and grazier had often been constrained to 
pack all his goods on the backs of oxen or in a wagon with his 
wife and children. A little hut of " wattle and daub " sheltered 
the family. Rude frames of wood overlaid with raw hide strips 
were their bedsteads, and sheepskins, their bedclothes. They 
cooked their food on the coals of wood-fires or boiled it in an 
iron pot. They cut their meat with clasp knives and drank 
from tin cups. A big chest served them for a table. Their 
house floor was the bare earth, unless a strip was covered with 
a wild beast's skin. Their children were brought up from their 
birth in this habit of life and the lack of comforts was not to 
them a privation. Their standard of living was scarcely higher 
than that of the imported Guinea slaves who worked for them, or 
of the native tribes that surrounded them. Their isolation from 
civilized society and their life in the wilderness in familiar con- 
tact with slaves and savages was inevitably degrading. When the 
English took the Colony, there was not a bookstore or a single 
good school in it, and outside of Cape Town almost the only 
tutors were soldiers who were allowed to live with the farmers. 1 
Still there was one sustaining and universal spirit which kept 
even the rudest grazier from* sinking to the barbaric level. They 
clung to the God of Israel and to the Bible as God's revelation. 
They never wearied of searching the Scriptures, and they prayed 
with the fervor and faith of the old Covenanters. Their creed 
was the strait and narrow way of Calvinism and the synod of 
Dordrecht, and they turned to the Old Testament as confidingly 
as to the New for guidance. They recognized the holding of 
slaves as a practice permitted to Israel, and they made bond ser- 
vants of the Hottentots in their apprenticeship contracts. In 
their eyes the Bushmen were Ishmaelites and the Kafirs Philis- 

1 "South Africa," George McCall Theal. "Handbook to South Africa," 
S. W. Silver & Co. 


tines, who were cumbering the ground that might be occupied by 
God's favored people. 1 But the settlers were phlegmatic and 
peaceful by nature, content with their bare living, and with no 
ardor for extending their bounds by conquest. An extraordinary 
impulse was needed to convert them into adventurers and wan- 
derers in the desert. 

This impulse was given by the capture of the Cape, the influx 
of jostling immigrants from Great Britain, new and vexing legis- 
lation, and disasters to crops which exalted the comparative value 
of pasturage lands. 2 At the opening of the administration of 
Lord Charles Somerset there was a marked effort on the part of 
the Home Government to promote the growth of the Colony. A 
regular mail packet service was established between England and 
the Cape, and ^50,000 were voted by Parliament in 1819 to be 
disbursed in aid of emigration to South Africa. This contribution 
was a powerful stimulus, and it is estimated that nearly 5,000 
new settlers of British birth were added to the population of 
Cape Colony from March, 1820, to May, 1821. 

Unfortunately the South African climate in 1820 and the 
years immediately following was peculiarly aggravating. In 1819 
there had been a heavy wheat crop and the consequent tempta- 
tion to farmers to extend their wheat growing. So they did, but 
the crop of 1820 throughout South Africa was fatally blighted. 
The next year's crop fared no better, and thousands of farmers 
were ruined and brought even to the verge of starvation. Rations 
were distributed by the Colonial Government in the fall of 1821 
to those who had no means to buy food, but the unrelieved 
suffering was widespread. Following hard on this scourge of 
blight came the prodigious floods of October, 1823, when it 
seemed to the colonists in the eastern districts as if the heavens 
were open for another deluge. Rain fell in torrents for days 
without ceasing, and overflowing rivers ran foaming to the sea, 
carrying millions of tons of earth in their turbid floods as well as 
the shattered houses of settlers who had barely time to fly for 

1 " Impressions of South Africa," James Bryce. "South Africa," Theal. 

2 " Annals of Natal," John Bird, p. 505. 


their lives. These staggering rebuffs in the face of the new emi- 
grants were greatly demoralizing. Some fled from the Cape in 
despair, and many more wrote home to their friends that the Col- 
ony was hung between flood and famine, and that the greater part 
of South Africa was a dismal Karrooland. Still there was a notably 
plucky rally and an immediate turning to other resources when 
wheat cultivation was shown to be an uncertain reliance. Cattle 
and sheep breeding was largely extended at once, and in 1828 
hides and skins ranked only second to wine in the list of 
exports. 1 

The failures in wheat growing and the resort to pasture land 
were strongly moving influences urging on the advance of pio- 
neer settlers from the southern river valleys north and east over 
the veld into unclaimed territory. This natural flow of migra- 
tion was greatly swelled and impelled by the clashing of the old 
settlers with the newcomers from Great Britain, and by their 
resentment of British control and administration measures. By 
the census of 1819 the white population of the colony was 
42,217, and outside of Cape Town this people was almost 
wholly of Dutch descent or of the fused Dutch and Huguenot 
strains. It was inevitable that a stock of such breeding and tra- 
dition should be impatient of any ordinances or ways except its 
own. It was peculiarly irksome to bow to a nation which had 
captured the Cape by the strong arm, and was only represented 
by a small minority of the" settlers. The inevitable heart-burn- 
ing; was aggravated by the contact and rivalries of the new and 

O OD * 

old settlers. Neither faction had the knowledge or temper to 
recognize the best traits in the other and show tolerance for dis- 


similar habits and prejudices. The Dutch boer has an old 
Anglo-Saxon root and is simply correspondent to the German 
bauer, a farmer or countryman ; but in the English mouth all 
the Dutch colonists were lumped as Boers, and in the English 
eye Boer was too often confounded with the clownish boor. 
The Boers faced this contempt with a glowing resentment that 
burned like a slow-match. 

1 "South Africa," Theal. 


In the new measures of government there was a succession 
of vexations also to colonists attached to the old customs and 
ordinances. The expense of the new colonial establishment was 
a grievance. The adjustment of the currency aroused bitter 
complaint. The substitution of English for Dutch in official 
papers, and the abolition of the old Dutch courts, were heavy 
humiliations. But the keenest resentment was excited by the 
measures designed for the protection of Hottentot bond servants 
and free natives, and the emancipation act of 1833. There had 
been a rapid increase in the importation of slaves from Guinea 
after the first conquest of the Colony by the British, but in 1807 
the last cargo of slaves was landed at Cape Town, and the slave 
trade was formally brought to an end by law in the following year. 
Still the colonists continued to hold and breed slaves as their 
fathers had done, and there were 35,745 slaves in the Colony 
when the emancipation act went into effect on the first of Decem- 
ber, 1834. These slaves were valued at ^3,000,000, but only 
^1,200,000 were appropriated as compensation to their owners. 
The loss fell heavily on many owners already sinking under the 
weight of mortgages, and there were rumblings and outpourings 
of bitter indignation. The deficiency in compensation was called 
Imperial confiscation, and the Boers resented it sorely, not merely 
on the score of the loss measured in money, but as a crowning 
instance of their political subjection. 1 Alien Imperial rule was 
the deep-seated grievance which was the underlying and impel- 
ling cause of the extraordinary exodus from Cape Colony called 
the Great Trek. 2 

In 1835 Louis Triechard led out the first pioneer company 
of this migration, and his advance into the wilderness beyond the 

o * 

bounds of the Colony was followed by a succession of slow-mov- 
ing caravans pushing northeast to the head waters of the Orange 
River and the terraces of Natal, and moving on, in course of 
years, across the Vaal to the Limpopo water-shed. This out- 
push of pioneers in large parties, overcoming all barriers of 

1 " Annals of Natal." " South Africa," Theal. " The Great Trek," Henry 
Cloete, her Majesty's High Commissioner for the Colony of Natal. 2 Ibid. 

9 2 


mountains and deserts, and fearlessly venturing into the strong- 
holds of the fiercest native tribes, undoubtedly hastened and 
secured the acquirement of the marvellous diamond and gold 
fields of South Africa. The march of the caravans and the 
winning of the land was a drama full of barbaric color and 

At the time when the Cape first fell into the hands of Great 
Britain, there was an insignificant tribe, the Amazulu, living in 

kraals on the banks of 
the river Unvolosi, which 
flows into the Indian 
Ocean at St. Lucia Bay. 
In their name there was 
an arrogance of high de- 
scent, for its meaning is 
" the people of the sky "; 
but the Amazulu had then 
nothing else to brag of, 
and while their head chief, 
Senzanzakona, lived, there 
was no terror in the Zulu 
name. But there was a 
son born to Senzanzakona 
in or near the year 1783 1 
who made the Amazulus 
masters of a region far 
exceeding any bounds of 
the Kalangu Monomotapa, and stamped his name across it in 
indelible blood.' 2 

The boy was called Tshaka or Chaka, which, in the Sechuana 
tongue, is " battle axe." There is another tracing of his name 
to Cheka, a wasting disease afflicting his mother. In either 
translation the name was ominous. But this chief's son had no 
deformity that an eye could see. When he came to manhood, 
a sculptor would have picked him as a model of his tall, athletic 
1 South Africa," Theal. Annals of Natal." 2 Ibid. 

/ulu Chief Get away o and Part of his Family. 



race. He was more than six feet in height, and every inch was 
pulsing with vigor. No rival could leap as high or hurl an 
assagai as far. In later life his 


shapely features were swollen with 
ugly passions and debauch, and 
his lithe body was overlaid with 
fat, but he never lost the beauty of 
his deep-set, brilliant black eyes, 
fringed with their long, curved 

For some cause Chaka, while 
only a lad, was forced to fly for 
refuge to Dingiswayo, chief of the 
Abatetwa, the master tribe of 
the district. Under protection 
of this chief he was made a sol- 
dier, and took by craft the head- 
ship of his own Zulu tribe when 
his father died. Then he was Zulu Prince - Dinizulu " 

able to betray and put to death his protector Dingiswayo, and 

spread his mastery by force or 
terror over the surrounding 
tribes. As he grew in power he 
showed an unfolding genius for 
war and command. He pressed 
every young and strong man 
within reach into his army. He 
marshalled his men in impis or 
regiments. He discarded the old 
bunch of assagais and armed each 
man with a single, short-handled, 
long-bladed unkonto or spear, 
and protected him with a shield 
of oxhide. He aimed with his 
weapon to make every fight hand to hand, where every man 
must kill or be killed. If a soldier lost his spear he was 


Zulu Family. 


doomed to die, unless he could show another in place of it, torn 
from an enemy. 

No barbaric figure was ever more terrific and martial than 
the Zulu soldier in war-dress. Chaka's hair was cut close, 
except on the top of his head where the thick, crisp locks were 
matted or moulded into a ring made of a tree gum and polished 
to the likeness of ebony. Thick folds of otter pelt were wound 
round his head and great earrings of carved sugar-cane hung 
from the cut lobes of his ears, which were covered with pads of 

A Zulu and his Ten Wives. 

jackal's skin. From this turban projected two feet or more a 
jet-black crane feather, waving with every toss of his head. A 
circlet of twisted monkey and genet skins hung over his breast 
and back, and from his waist a thick flexible kilt of twisted skins 
hung to his knees. Bands of short-cut white oxtails circled his 
legs and arms, and the ruffles round his ankles made his bound- 
ing feet oddly like the winged Mercury. In his right hand he 
grasped his spear and swung at his left side his oval shield of 
white oxhide. Now pin with thorns a dozen bunches of the 
red feathers of the louri in the crisp tufts of his crown and scat- 


. , t .. i u t;>s lie could show .iurr! - : 'iUvf ot u, torn 

>*.'C r>'.Ture AUS ever JTH -*i and martial than 

tidier in war-' hair was cut close, 

.t the top of his hcKvi ^Mtrr rlnck, crisp locks were 

'Moulded into i PMC- -t a rrce gum and polished 

.I-, /ness ot'ebonv. o . ot otter pelt were wound 

iis head and urcaf c.if fit" carved sugar-cane hung 

It!' Acre covered with pads, ot 


:oi.,ted rwo feet or more a 
? t-vi.ry toss of his head. A 
hung over his breast 
flexible kilt of twisted skins 
>rr -cut unite oxtails circled his 
.a his ankles made his bound- 
ercury. In his right hand he 
his left side his oval shield of 
- horns a dozen bunches of the 
N-.I tufts of his crown and sxrat- 



Zulu Kraal and Huts. 

ter some other brilliant feathers on a circlet above his breast, 
and see Chaka dressed for parade. 1 

Then fancy the marshalling of an army of men like him, for 
the chieftain in arms was one of ten thousand. When the lead- 
ing division marched on in review, every man was more or less 
closely the image of Chaka. These picked men were his Unbala- 
bale or Invincibles, scarred veterans who had never been beaten. 
They bore white shields marked, like their chief's, with a black 
spot, and behind them followed in grade of honor divisions with 
red-spotted shields, gray shields, and black shields. Only the 
Invincibles had kilts of skins, the others wearing instead a trap- 
ping of oxtails. As these fierce troops marched on before 
Chaka's keen eye, the men of chief mark would bound from the 
ranks and show a marvel of vaulting, darting to and fro, whirl- 
ing of spears and mimicry of fight, in which few athletes could 
compare with the supple Zulu. 

In formation for battle Chaka curved the van of his impis 

1 "Annals of Natal," pp. 90-100. 

9 6 


like a crescent. He called the end his horns and the centre his 
breast. This was the old array of the warring Bantu tribes, but 
Chaka greatly strengthened it by a formation behind in an 
oblong block of men held in reserve to repel any break in the 
crescent or reenforce it when wavering. His force of disciplined 
soldiers ranged up to fifty thousand strong. 

Zulu Hut in course of Construction. 

With this prodigious engine of war shaped to his hand, he 
overran all the country from Delagoa Bay to the Unzimvulu 
River and far into the interior, scourging its face mercilessly. 
Some of the terrified tribes in his way were blotted o*ut com- 
pletely. " There was a white mark from the Tugela to Thaba 
N'chu, and that was our bones," said an old Hlubi to Theal, the 
historian of South Africa. Sometimes stragglers escaped to lurk 
in mountain recesses. These wretched survivors of the scourge 
were covered by one new and pitiful name, Amafengu, because 
their first cry to strangers was Fenguza, " we want." Only one 
tribe held Chaka in check, the warlike Amaswazi, which stub- 
bornly guarded their mountain paths and cliffs. Even the fierce 
Amangwane were forced to fly before Chaka's resistless impis ; 
but they kept massed together, and in their retreat drove off or 
massacred most of the tribes between the Orange and the Vaal 
rivers. Then the Amangwane, still hot pressed by the Zulus, 



began to rub against the frontiersmen of Cape Colony. This 
inroad was bravely met by a muster of a thousand soldiers and 
Boers under Lieutenant Colonel Somerset, who finally put the 
Amangwane to utter route in a sharp battle, August 27, 1828, 
near the banks of the Bashil River. 1 

Chaka was a warrior capable of measuring the efficiency of 
the white man's organization and firearms. When the Aman- 
gwane were thrown back, the Zulu chief withdrew his own impis 
without risking a collision with the whites. A few weeks later 
he was murdered by two of his half brothers and his best-trusted 
attendant. Dingaan, his half brother, and one of his assassins, 
grasped the headship of the Zulus, but his succession was dis- 

Zulu Woman grinding Corn. 

puted by the commander of one of the chief divisions of Chaka's 
army, the unruly Matabele. This revolting chief, Umsilikazi, 
was the model of a Zulu warrior, tall, sinewy, shapely, and, 
except in war dress, naked save for a cord around his waist 
from which leopards' tails dangled. A string of little blue 
beads was drawn about his sturdy neck, and three green feathers 
of a paroquet were stuck in his crisp hair. His followers were 
like him, and the wild charge of the legion of such men armed 
1 "South Africa," Theal. "Annals of Natal." 


with their keen-bladed spears was a sight that would try the 
nerve of any white soldier. How the rudely armed and undis- 
ciplined Boers would face it was soon to be tested. 

Umsilikazi, revolting from Dingaan, led his Matabele divi- 
sion across the desert to fall upon the country north of the 
Orange River and west of the Drakensberg, the Dragon 
Mountains. Much of this country had been ravaged before 
by the Amangwane, and the Matabele spared nothing that had 
escaped slaughter and pillage. Dingaan sent an army of Zulus 
in 1834 to dislodge his rival, but the warriors of Umsilikazi 

' '* *^ 


^ :ic3S 

Zulu Women. 

beat back the attack. By the Zulu raids and massacres and 
wars, the whole country from the seaboard of Natal nearly to 
the junction of the Orange and Vaal was desolated, and the 
native tribes of the region almost destroyed. Thus great tracts 
of land were opened to the advance of the migrating Boers, but 
the push of the trekking pioneers soon brought them in conflict 
with Umsilikazi and Dingaan. 

Then the remarkable traits of this peculiar people stood out 
in high relief. To English immigrants, jostling the old settlers, 
the ordinary Boer appeared a Dutch clodhopper, sullen and jeal- 
ous, unkempt in person and dress, immovably set in his traditional 
ways, pig-headed in his obstinate prejudices, a block to every 
suggestion of progress, Pharasaical in his prayers, absurd in his 



customs, and often clutching to the last penny. 1 There were 
some true lines in this partial portraiture, with a natural warping 

Zulus smoking Indian Hemp. 

of prejudice and lack of insight. In face of the foreign intru- 
sion the Boer had something of the instinct of the turtle and 

Old Zulu Women taking Kafir Beer to a Wedding. 

1 "The Great Thirst Land," Parker Gillmore. "South Africa," George 
McCall Theal. " South Africa ; a Sketch Book of Men, Manners, and Facts," 
James Stanley Little. 


porcupine. But in the heart of the wilderness, in his venture- 
some trek over the pathless veld, and in the traverse of moun- 
tains and deserts, he showed what scornful eyes had not seen, 
the self-reliance, the fortitude, and the pluck of the true pioneer. 
He packed his wife and children and all his needful supplies 
in a huge, low-bodied wagon under an arched frame covered with 

waterproof canvas. To this stout 
wagon sixteen strong oxen were 
yoked to the chain or rawhide rope 
forming a trektouw. Every ox was 
a helpmate. Every one knew his 
name and place and resented a 
change in yoking. The Boer and 
his Hottentot helpers spoke to them 
all familiarly, and could cut at will 
a fly from the ear of any one with 
a flick of their long-lashed whip. 
When these prairie-schooners lum- 
bered off, creaking and swaying, 
with a chorus of Dutch and native calls, the Beers and their 
sons rode beside them on ungainly flea-bitten horses, trained to 
herding and hunting, and often possessing uncommon bottom 
and speed. 

The Boer was by nature prudent and wary. For comfort 
and safeguard the advance of the Great Trek was in companies, 
camping at night on plain and hillside, with wagons ranged to 
form a rough palisade and kraal. No morning or nightfall ever 
passed without prayers and the reading or recital of Scripture. 
For every step of his way he looked to his God for guidance, 
and he felt that the old promises to the chosen people were 
renewed to him. His faith in the literal inspiration of the Bible 
was unwavering. He did not doubt that the sun stood still at 
the call of Joshua, or wonder at the slaughter of Philistines with 
the jawbone of an ass. In face of every privation and the direst 
peril he was sustained by his certain reliance on the help of One 
who could make a spring gush from the desert rock, or deliver 

Zulu Girls. 



any heathen host into the hands of a few faithful servants. 
But with all this reliant devotion he never forgot " to keep his 
powder dry," and used every opportunity to perfect his skill as 
a marksman. 

Back of his faith and prudence was an unflinching spirit. In 
the uncouth Boer smouldered the fire of an ancestry that charged 
at Ivry and starved at Leyden. Even the women and children 
were dauntless at the 
pinch of need. With 
her white grease-cloth 
wrapped about her face, 
the Boer's vrouw was 
an uncouth object, but 
with her eye on the 
sight of a rifle many a 
fat old woman was a 
guard to be feared. 

No impediments 
nor dangers stayed the 
advance of these pio- 
neers. When a heavy 
wheel dropped into a 
deep gully or earth- 
crack or ant-bear hole, 
it was pried out with un- 
tiring patience. When 
thunder-storms changed 
the red soil to beds of 
mire and the wheels were clogged masses of mud from nave to 
felloe, the mud was laboriously scraped away and the wagons 
tugged to firmer ground. When the violent wrenches and strains 
snapped trektouws and wagon-poles and king-bolts like pack- 
thread, the same inflexible temper relinked the broken touws with 
riems of rawhide, chopped out new wagon-poles, and forged new 
fastenings with rude blacksmith's art. No karroo was so forbid- 
ding and no stream so swollen as to bar the onward march. 

Native Laborers in War Dress. 


The tired Boer snored serenely at night behind the bulwark 
of his wagons, regardless of the wild beasts prowling and sniff- 
ing outside. The giggling calls of the gray and brown jackals, 
the doleful howl of the slinking hyena, even the deep breathing 
sough of the lurking lion, did not open his eyes, and it must be 
a fiercely menacing roar indeed that would lift his head. His 
only haunting dread was the crippling of his march by the 
deadly tsetse fly or the wasting diseases that made his horses 
and oxen the prey of the vulture. 

Trekbok (Springbok) Hunting. 

In the passage of these pioneers the destruction of wild ani- 
mals of all kinds was enormous, partly for the sake of needful 
food, and partly for the skins, but much wantonly and waste- 
fully, for the Boer would rarely let pass a living mark for his 
rifle. Of lesser game there was no attempt to keep tally, but by 
a common report thousands of lions were shot in the march to 
the Transvaal. Any such reckoning must be largely guesswork, 
though there is no doubt that few beasts within range escaped with- 
out the sting of a bullet. But a foe more formidable than any 
multitude of lions sought to bar the progress of the Great Trek. 

The revolting Umsilikazi was the first of the great Zulu 
chiefs to try the temper and the arms of these pioneers. One 



of the larger divisions of the Great Trek, led by Hendrik Pot- 
gieter and Gert Maritz, left the Cape Colony in August, 
1836, and pushed north of the Caledon River. 1 Some of the 
pioneers in this advance were cut off suddenly and killed by 
Umsilikazi. Flushed with this bloodshed, he made a swoop 
with six thousand men upon a part of Potgieter's trek a com- 
pany of a few score men, women, and children. But the startled 
Boers were now on their 
guard. They ranged their 
big, white-tented wagons in a 
square, lashing the wheels to- 
gether with rawhide riems, 
and filling in the chinks in 
their barricade with thorny 
mimosa bushes. In the cen- 
tre of this laager a few wagons 
were placed as a cover for the 
women and children. 

Upon sight of the ad- 
vancing Matabele, all knelt 
and prayed. Then some of 
the men rode out boldly to 
meet the attack with their 
heavy rifles. Their fire was 
deadly, killing, at times, two 
or three at a shot, when their 
guns were loaded with slugs, 
but the impis pressed on, 
driving the Boers back to their laager in a sullen retreat, turning 
to fire as fast as they could reload. Within the laager all was 
made ready for a defence to the death. Back of every wagon a 
little heap of powder and bullets was put on the ground, and the 
women stood by to hand spare guns and reload. It was sternly 
ordered that there should be no shrieking or crying by women 
or children. In silence the rush of the Matabele was awaited. 

1 The Caledon River divides Basutoland from the Orange River Colony. 

Zulu in War Dress. 


On came the impis in raging masses that dashed on every 
side of the laager like surf on a reef, wrenching at the wheels, 
clambering over the canvas, plunging through the thorns. The 
heavy wagons were shaken and swayed, but the lashed barricade 
held fast. The grim Boers met the shock with withering 
volleys, piling up the blacks in bloody heaps around the laager. 
Crouching behind the firing line, the women moulded bullets 
and helped to reload. 

The firing was so deadly and the laager so impenetrable that 
the surges massed against it recoiled. But, after a moment of 
rallying,on came the billows of men, flinging their assagais, and 
howling like madmen as they crashed against the barrier which 
shielded the Boers. They stabbed and slashed at the canvas 
covers in frenzied efforts to cut their way over the wagons, and 
wriggled through the crevices packed with thorn bushes, until 
some, torn, bloody, and gasping, squirmed into the square, where 
the Boer women killed them with knives and hatchets. The 
Boers fired as fast as they could lift their rifles, not stopping to 
use their ramrods, but grabbing handfuls of powder to charge 
their guns, and dropping in slugs with scarcely any wadding. 

So intense was the strain of that hour that even these men 
of iron nerve were entranced. " Of that fight," wrote one, 
" nothing remains in my memory except shouting and tumult 
and lamentation, and a dense smoke that rose straight as a plumb 
line upwards from the ground." l 

Four times the black impis charged and four times their 
onset was beaten back before Umsilikazi drew off his men. 
The field around the laager was a fearful sight, and the white 
tops of the barricade were slashed into strips and dripping with 
blood. Seventy-two stabs were counted in the cover of one 
wagon, and eleven hundred and seventy-two assagais were flung 
through into the camp. But none of the stout defenders were 
killed, and all joined devoutly in a psalm of thanksgiving. 

In retaliation for this attack Hendrik Potgieter and Pieter 
Uys led a troop of one hundred and thirty-seven in a swift 

1 "Annals of Natal," p. 375. 



march and onslaught upon the main division of Umsilikazi. 
The attack was so well timed and aimed that the array of fierce 
impis was shattered and their chief was driven in flight to the 
wilderness beyond the Limpopo. There, in the present Mata- 
beleland, Umsilikazi brought together the remnants of his 
people, and ruled in awe of the pioneers until his death in 1870. 

Hard upon the defeat of 
Umsilikazi came the greater 
clash with Dingaan, when the 
trekking Boers crossed the Dra- 
kensberg or Dragon Mountains 

O O 

to the terraces of Natal. This 
cunning and tricky chief made 
smooth professions of friendship 
to the Boers at first. He wel- 
comed as allies the company 
headed by Pieter Retief and re- 
ceived the commander at his 
kraal. The chief's house was a 
spherical hut about twenty feet 
in diameter. Its floor was pol- 

ished till it shone like a mirror, and its roof was supported by 
twenty-two pillars of wood completely covered with beads. 
Around this house were seventeen hundred ruder huts which 
Dingaan used as barracks for his impis, and each hut would 
cover twenty men. 

After some parleying Dingaan signed a cession of the greater 
part of the present territory of Natal to the Boers. To cele- 
brate the compact he invited Retief to visit him again with his 
companions. It was agreed as an exhibit of good faith that no 
arms should be taken into the chiefs kraal. So Retief and 
some sixty other Boers, with forty Hottentot attendants, piled 
their arms outside the kraal, and came in before Dingaan, who 
was sitting in an arm-chair in front of his hut. Two of his 
impis were formed in a circle about him. The Boers took their 
seats on the ground within the circle, and cups of utywala or 


native beer were offered them to drink. But when they put 
their lips to the cup, Dingaan cried out, " bulala amatagati," 
"kill the wizards." At this cry his Zulus fell on their helpless 
guests in overwhelming mass. A few Boers had clasp-knives, 
and the others met the rush with naked hands, but all were 
overpowered in a moment and dragged over the ground to a 
hill near by, called Hloma Mabuto, or the mustering of the 
soldiers. Here their heads were crushed with knob kerries, 
and their bodies were flung into heaps. Retief was forced to see 
the horrid murder of all of his companions. Then his heart 
and liver were cut out and taken to Dingaan, and the mutilated 
corpse was cast on the heap of dead. 1 

None of the Boers in the trap escaped, and after the mas- 
sacre the Zulus poured out to raid the scattered camps of the 
pioneers. They were finally beaten back at Bushman's River, 
after they had killed many trekkers and carried off their cattle, 
and the mounted Boers followed their retreat for days. But 
the Zulus were quick to turn and strike again like fierce hawks, 
and within two months they swooped down upon the English 
settlers and native blacks of Natal and cut them off almost to a 

The trekking Boers were hard pressed. Pieter Uys was 
killed in ambuscade, with his son, a boy of fourteen, and a num- 
ber of his men. When Uys was fatally wounded, he urged his 
son to escape by spurring his horse, and the boy rode on to 
a place of safety, but turned and rode back deliberately to die 
with his father.' 2 Potgieter drove back the Zulus after the fall 
of Uys, but he did not venture to hold his ground, and with- 
drew across the Drakensberg. Only a determined rally and 
crushing blow could free Natal from the hanging menace of the 
impis that Chaka had trained for the hand of Dingaan. 

In December, 1838, a force of six hundred mounted Boers 
was mustered to strike this blow under the command of Andries 
Pretorius. It seemed an absurdly weak force for such an attack, 
but the count in numbers did not measure its strength. Every 

1 "Annals of Natal," pp. 214-218. 2 Ibid. p. 374. 


man was a master marksman with the heavy rifle that had so 
often broken the bound of the lion and stopped the charging 
rhinoceros when to miss was death. In every one's heart was 
a flame of hate for the ruthless Zulu. " Remember Retief " 
was a mutter that ran from man to man as the troop rode on. 
They longed for revenge as thirsty men crave water. They 
advanced, too, with the spirit of the Israelites of old and of 
Cromwell's Ironsides. They marched only between matins 
and evensong. They prayed in their saddles and lifted their 
voices in psalms. Surely the God of their covenant had the 
power to confound any might of the heathen and deliver their 
enemy into their hands. 

When they drew near to the Zulus, Pretorius halted, and 
with all his men offered a vow to the God of their fathers, 
should He grant them the victory, "to raise a house in memory 
of His great name wherever it should please Him, and note the 
day in a book to make it known to latest posterity." 

With this simple confidence in Divine protection there was 
the shrewdest practical judgment in selecting the best possible 
post to offset their comparative weakness in numbers and in- 
trench their little force. Their laager was pitched at the junc- 
tion of a broad river reach, called a sea-cow hole, with a deep, 
dry water-course, covering both flanks. Here, on Sunday, the 
1 6th of December, 1838, at five o'clock in the morning, they 
were attacked by a force of many thousand Zulus and fought 
for more than five hours. Impi after impi, reckless of life, 
charged up to the rifle front belching smoke, flame, and bullets, 
only to reel back before the deadly hail. When even this rag- 
ing horde wavered, Pretorius with one hundred and fifty picked 
horsemen circled about and struck their rear with a charge so fiery 
that the Zulus were utterly routed. The Boers drove the blacks 
to the river, shooting and trampling them under the feet of their 
horses. " The Kafirs lay on the ground," said one horseman, 
" like pumpkins in a rich soil that has borne a large crop." The 
sea-cow hole was packed so full that " the water looked like a 

1 "Annals of" Natal," pp. 246-249, 448. 


pool of blood," and the stream thenceforward was known as 
Blood River. 1 Three thousand six hundred Zulus were left 
dead on the field, and this decisive victory was gained without 
the loss of a single life to the Boers. A few were slightly 
wounded, but they thought nothing of their hurts in the com- 
mon thanksgiving. 

This signal triumph and salvation were humbly taken as the 
answer of God to their prayers, and the vow before the battle 

was faithfully ful- 
filled, as the old 
Dutch Reformed 
Church of Pieter 
Maritzburg, the 
mother church 
of Southeast Af- 
rica, bears wit- 
ness. The flying 
Zulus were pur- 
sued and the 
kraal of Dingaan 
captured, Febru- 
ary 3d, 1839, 
where the bodies 
of Retief and 
his companions 
were found and 
mournfully buried in one grave. The Boers called the place 
Weenan, the weeping, and so it is known to this day. 

Dingaan fled north and hid himself in a concealed kraal 
which he built. A Boer writer tells a story of his capture and 
death with grim delight. Many of the tribes which had been 
pressed in with the Zulus made peace with the Boers. One of 
the Swazi chiefs, Sapusa, who had bowed to the tyranny of 
Dingaan, found his late master's hiding-place. " On the first 
day old Sapusa pricked his captive with sharp assagais, not 

1 " Annals of Natal," pp. 246249, 448. 

A Zulu Laborer in War Attire. 


more than skin deep, from the sole of his foot to the top of his 
head. On the second day he caused him to be bitten by dogs. 
On the third day Sapusa said to Dingaan, ' Are you still the rain- 
maker, greatest of men ? The sun is rising, you shall not see 
it set.' Then he took assagais and bored Dingaan's eyes out, 
and when the sun set, Dingaan died, for he had had no food or 
water for three days. Such was the end of Dingaan." 1 

So the Boers finally stayed the sweep of the Zulu scourge 
which had laid waste a great stretch of land north of the Cape 
settlements. Upon the defeat and flight of Umsilikazi, the vic- 
torious commandant, Hendrik Potgieter, proclaimed that all the 
territory overrun by this chief was forfeited to the pioneer 
Boers. This claim covered the greater part of the late South 
African Republic, and half, at least, of what is now the Orange 
River Colony. In this assertion there was no recognition of 
any sovereignty of Great Britain or attachment to the Cape 
Colony. It was the view of the Boers that the land which they 
took was theirs by right of capture and forfeit, and that they 
were independent adventurers with no ties of allegiance. A 
simple form of republican government was established for the 
Boers, north of the Orange River, by a general assembly of the 
pioneers at Winburg in June, 1837, and a few years later, on 
the land won from Dingaan, on the other side of the Drakens- 
berg, the republic of Natalia was declared to extend from the 
Umzimbulu to the Tugela. Outside of these crudely organized 
political associations there were from sixteen to twenty pioneer 
companies, headed by field cornets, which were practically as 
independent as the native tribes north of the Drakensberg. 
Neither of the republican creations was recognized by Great 
Britain, and, in 1842, Port Natal and the seaboard of the 
republic were captured, though Andries Pretorius repulsed the 
first British attack at Congella with heavy loss. In the follow- 
ing year Natal was formally declared to be a British Colony, and 
several thousand British immigrants were brought in to take the 

1 Of the basic fact of the assassination of Dingaan by a Swazi there is no 


place of the retiring Boers who recrossed the Drakensberg. In 
1848, by proclamation of Sir Harry Smith, her Majesty's High 
Commissioner and Governor of Cape Colony, all the territory 
between the Vaal and Orange rivers and the Quathlamba divi- 
sion of the Drakensberg was formally declared to be part of the 
British dominions under the name of the Orange River Sover- 
eignty. The Boers had been spreading out towards the Vaal in 
many trekking parties north of the Drakensberg, and the Brit- 
ish supremacy was not recognized until it was forcibly asserted 
by arms in the battle of Boomplatz, July 22, 1848. Then part 
of the Boers sullenly submitted, but many, headed by Andries 
Pretorius, preferred to pass beyond the farthest assertion of 
English dominion by crossing the Vaal and entering the wilder- 
ness stretching to the Limpopo. 

There was then not even a glimmer of anticipation that the 
great stretch of veld and karroo between the Orange and the Vaal 
contained by far the richest diamond fields in the world. The 
controlling ministry in Great Britain at the time did not even 
consider it worth the cost of keeping and defending, and on 
October 21, 1851, Earl Grey wrote to Sir Harry Smith that 
" its ultimate abandonment should be a settled point in imperial 
policy." The territory beyond the Vaal was rated still more 
cheaply, and on January 17, 1852, the local independence of 
the inhabitants of the Transvaal was formally recognized by the 
Sand River Convention, signed by two assistant commissioners 
for Sir Harry Smith, and by appointed delegates for the Trans- 
vaal pioneers. The state organization of these settlers was first 
christened Hollandsche Afrikaansche Republiek, but this name 
was changed to Zud Afrikaansche Republiek in September, 
1853. In the preceding month of July, Andries Pretorius, the 
pioneer leader who broke the Zulu power, died, but his great 
service was honorably recognized in the choice of his eldest son, 
Marthinus Wessels Pretorius, as the first president of the new 
Republic, and in the establishment of its capital of Pretoria. 

On March 31, 1852, Lieutenant General George Cathcart suc- 
ceeded Sir Harry Smith as High Commissioner and Governor 


of Cape Colony. The Transvaal had been already disposed of 
by the Sand River Convention, but, immediately after his arrival, 
May 13, 1852, General Cathcart issued a formal proclamation 
confirming this convention. It appeared, too, that it might be 
desirable to shift the charge of maintenance and local defence of 
the Orange River Sovereignty to the shoulders of the pioneer 
settlers. This conviction was confirmed by the outbreak of a 
war with the Basutos, the most powerful native tribe in this terri- 
tory, under a cunning chief, Moshesh. In November, 1852, Gen- 
eral Cathcart led a little army of two thousand infantry and five 
hundred cavalry to the Caledon River, but in the following month 
his expedition was beset by an overwhelming force of Basutos 
at Berea Mountain, and the battle was in effect a repulse to 
the British. After leaving a garrison at Bloemfontein, General 
Cathcart withdrew under cover of a fragile proclamation of 
peace, but his report and the accompanying news were so dis- 
couraging that the Duke of Newcastle wrote to him that " her 
Majesty's Government had decided to withdraw from the 
Orange River Sovereignty." In pursuance of this conclusion 
a convention was signed February 23, 1854, at Bloemfontein, by 
Sir George Russell Clerk, special commissioner representing 
Great Britain, and by the delegates from districts in the sov- 
ereignty. By this convention the independence of the settlers 
in the sovereignty was guaranteed, and the administration was 
handed over to a provisional council, which took charge until 
the first sitting of the Volksraad, March 28, 1854, and the 
declaration of a republic in the following month under the name 
of the Orange Free State. This independent state covered the 
greater part of the territory comprised within the bounds of the 
Orange River Sovereignty, excepting the large division between 
the Caledon River and the Quathlamba Mountains, reserved 
to the Basutos, and smaller reservations on the Vaal held by 
the Griquas. 

Within the limits of the whole district between the Orange 
and the Vaal rivers there were then not more than fifteen thou- 
sand whites scattered over a territory of many thousand square 


miles. Except in the Caledon River districts little of this great 
expanse was capable of supporting any clustered population or 
even available for agriculture. The soil throughout was shallow, 
and in the southern and western sections the rainfall was ordi- 
narily light. There were a number of widespreading karroos, and 
in the dry months the greater part of the veld was little better 
than the desert. The so-called farms were chiefly cattle and sheep 
pastures, where the yield of grass and herbage was so varying 
that several thousand acres were needed for any fair assurance of 

Birds' Nest of Social Grosbeak. 

safety for a small herd. The total number of farms secured by 
grant was only twelve hundred and sixty-five, but they extended 
over eleven million acres. Of the farm owners only one hundred 
and thirty-nine were Englishmen, and a number of these were non- 
residents. 1 In the abstract there was seemingly little attraction or 
value to excite any flow of immigration or to make the province 
a prize worth the cost of defending. 

Not only the prospects of the Orange Free State and of its 
neighbor on the other side of the Vaal seemed dull and incon- 
siderable to most observers, but the condition of Natal and 

i " South Africa," Theal. 






Haartebeesle and Gemsbok. 

Giraffe. Rhinoceros. 

Native Carvings on Boulders at Klipfontein, 35 Miles West of Kimberley. 




of Cape Colony itself was little more promising. In Great 
Britain the whole dependency was so lightly esteemed that it 
was determined in 1849 to utilize it as a dumping ground for 
convicts, after Australia had resentfully thrown off this burden. 
The convict ship Neptune was actually sent out, but the indigna- 
tion of the colonists was so demonstrative that no convicts were 
landed, and the ship with its load was held for five months in 
Simon's Bay, the present Naval Station, a little south of Cape 
Town, until the recalling order was received, February 13, 1850. 
The colony had not sunk so low as to submit to this mark of 
contempt, but it was undoubtedly drooping in hopes and enter- 
prise, and the progress of its industrial development was pain- 
fully slow. There had been a pronounced diversion from 
agriculture to cattle and sheep raising for reasons before noted, 
and wool had become the chief and almost the only export of 
consequence. Still the peculiar condition and vagaries of the 
South African climate and seasons were hard to provide for or 
overcome, and there were prevalent diseases that attacked horses, 
cattle, and sheep, and greatly checked the rise of the pastoral 
industry. Communication from one part of the colony to 
another was very slowly improved. The roads were few and 
bad, and in 1867 the only stretch of railway in all South Africa 
was a bare forty miles from Cape Town to Wellington. The 
total annual export of the Colony was a trifle over ^2,000,000 
in value, and there was no diversification of industries and no 
manufactures of any considerable extent. 1 This was the situation 
when the gloom was suddenly dispelled and the whole face of 
South Africa changed by the discovery of the Diamond Fields. 

1 "South Africa," Theal. 

THE ENGLISH. (See page HI.) 


EARLY two hundred years had passed since 
the memorable expedition of van der Stel 
made known to geographers the Groote River, 
which, a hundred years later, was christened 
the Orange. Before Great Britain took the 
Cape, the daring van Reenen had penetrated 
to Modder Fontein, unconsciously skirting the rim of a marvel- 
lous diamond field. Since the beginning of the century scores 
of roving hunters had chased their game over a network of 
devious tracks, traversing every nook of the land between the 
Orange and the Vaal, and often camping for days upon their 
banks. Then the trekking pioneer graziers and farmers plodded 
on after the hunters, sprinkling their huts and kraals over the 
face of the Orange Free State, but naturally squatting first on 
the arable lands and grazing ground nearest the water-courses. 
So, in the course of years, in the passage of the Great Trek, 
thousands of men, women, and children had passed across the 
Orange and Vaal, and up and down their winding valleys, and 
hundreds, at least, had trodden the river shore sands of the 
region in which the most precious of gems were lying. 

On the Orange River, some thirty miles above its junction 
with the Vaal, there was the hamlet of Hopetown, one of the 
most thriving of the little settlements, and a number of farms 
dotted the angle between the rivers. Along the line of the Vaal, 
for some distance above its entry into the Orange, there were 
some ill-defined reservations occupied by a few weak native 
tribes, Koranas and Griquas, for whose instruction there 



were mission stations at Pniel and Hebron. 1 For centuries 
unnumbered the aboriginal tribes had been ignorantly trampling 
under foot gems of countless price, and for years Dutch and 
English hunters, pioneers, farmers, shepherds, and missionaries 
trekked as heedlessly over the African diamond beds. 

After the revelation of this fact, there arose, it is true, an 
imposing tale of an old mission map of the Orange River region, 
drawn as far back as the middle of the eighteenth century, across 
whose worn and soiled face was scrawled: "Here be diamonds." 2 
Even if this report were true, there was no evidence determining 
the date of the scrawl, which might more credibly be a crude 
new record than a vague old one. In any event, it does not 
appear that there was even a floating rumor of the probable 
existence of a South African diamond field at the time of the 
actual discovery of the first identified gem. 

There is nothing surprising in this oversight. When a 
spectator beholds a great semicircle of artfully cut gems spar- 
kling on the heads, necks, and hands of fair women massed in 
superb array, and resplendent in the brilliant lights of an opera 
house, or when one views the moving throng glittering with 
jewels in grand court assemblies, it is hard for him to realize 
how inconspicuous a tiny isolated crystal may be in the richest 
of earth beds. No spot in a diamond field has the faintest 
resemblance to a jeweller's show tray. Here is no display of 
gems blazing like a Mogul's throne, or a Queen's tiara, or the 
studded cloak of a Russian noble. Only in the marvellous 
valley of Sindbad are diamonds strewn on the ground in such 
profusion that they are likely to stick in the toes of a barefooted 
traveller, and can be gathered by flinging carcasses of sheep from 
surrounding precipices to tempt eagles to serve as diamond 

It needs no strain of faith to credit the old Persian tale of 
the discontented Ali Hafed, roaming far and wide from his 

1 "South Africa," George McCall Theal, London, 1888, 1891, 1893. 

2 " South African Diamond Fields and Journey to Mines," William Jacob 
Morton, New York, 1877. 


charming home on the banks of the Indus in search of dia- 
monds, and, finally, beggared and starving, casting himself into 
the river which flowed by his house, while the diamonds of Gol- 
conda were lying in his own garden sands. It is probable that 
the diamonds of India were trodden under foot for thousands of 
years before the first precious stone of the Deccan was stuck in 
an idol's eye or a rajah's turban. It is known that the Brazilian 
diamond fields were washed for many years by gold placer 
diggers without any revelation of diamonds to the world, 
although these precious stones were often picked up and so 
familiarly handled that they were used by the black slaves in the 
fields as counters in card games. 

If this be true of the most famous and prolific of all dia- 
mond fields before the opening of the South African placers and 
mines, any delay in the revelation of the field in the heart of 
South Africa may be easily understood. For it was not only 
necessary to have eyes bright and keen enough to mark one of 
the few tiny precious crystals which were lying on the face of 
vast stretches of pebbles, boulders, and sand, but the observer 
must prize such a crystal enough to stoop to pick it up if it lay 
plainly before his eyes. To the naked native a rough diamond 
had no more attraction than any other pretty pebble. There 
were millions of other white crystals and many colored pebbles 
on the river shores which were equally precious or worthless in 
his eyes. The roving hunters were looking sharply for game 
bounding over the veld, and only glanced at a pebble-strewn 
bank to mark the possible track of their prey. The stolid Boer 
pioneers would hardly bend their backs to pick up the prettiest 
stone that ever lay on the bank of an African river, even if it 
were as big as the great yellow diamond so jealously guarded by 
the Portuguese crown. 1 

It might be thought that some visitor to the fields would be 
more expert in judging its character than natives, hunters, and 
farmers ; but there were few trained mineralogists in South 

1 "The Gold Regions of Southeastern Africa," Thomas Baines, F.R.G.S., 
London, 1877. 


Africa, and it is doubtful if there was one who had ever examined 
a diamond field personally or compared one field with another. 
Even with this special experience an expert student of general 
mineral formations might survey this particular field closely with- 
out suspecting the existence of diamonds. This was demon- 
strated in the visit of the colonial geologist Wyley to the 
Orange Free State in 1856, when he investigated the alleged 
discovery of gold in thin veins of quartz lining the joints and 
crevices of the trappean rocks at Smithfield. In the course of 
his exploration he went to Fauresmith, where diamonds were 
afterward picked from the town commonage, and stood on the 
verge of the farm Jagersfontein, later the seat of a prolific dia- 
mond mine, yet it does not appear that he had even a surmise 
of the existence of diamonds in the field of his investiga- 
tion. 1 It is but fair to him to observe, however, that the sec- 
tion which he visited had no such close resemblance to any 
known typical field as that which led Humboldt and Rose to 
the revelation of the diamonds of the Ural from the similarity 
of the ground formations to those of the Brazilian diamond 

As a matter of fact nobody who entered the Vaal river region 
conceived it to be a possible diamond field or thought of search- 
ing for any precious stones. Probably, too, there was not a 
person in the Orange Free State, and few in the Cape Colony, 
who was able to distinguish a rough diamond if he found one by 
chance, or would be likely to prize such a crystal. For the dis- 
covery of diamonds under such conditions it was practically 
necessary that a number of prospectors should enter it who 
would search the gravel beds often and eagerly for the prettiest 
pebbles. Were any such collectors at work in the field? 

One of the trekking Boers, Daniel Jacobs, had made his 
home on the banks of the Orange River near the little settle- 
ment of Hopetown. He was one of the sprinkling of little 
farmers who was stolidly content with a bare and precarious liv- 

1 "Among the Diamonds," by the late John Noble, Clerk of the House of 
Assembly, Cape Town. 


ing on the uncertain pasture lands of the veld. Here his chil- 
dren grew up about him with little more care than the goats that 
browsed on the kopjes. 

A poor farmer's home was a squalid hovel. It was roughly 
partitioned to form a bedroom and kitchen, lighted by two small 
windows smudged with grime. Dirty calico tacked on the 
rafters made its ceiling. Its bare earthen floor was smeared 
weekly with a polishing paste of cowdung and water. Father, 
mother, and children slept together on a rude frame overlaced 
with rawhide strips. The only other furniture in this stifling 
bedroom was a chest of drawers and a small cracked mirror. 
There was no washbowl or water pitcher, but in the morning 
one after another of the family wiped their faces and swabbed 
their hands on the same moistened cloth. Then they drew up 
chairs with rawhide seats to a rough wooden table and ate corn 
meal porridge, and sometimes a hunk of tough mutton boiled 
with rice, and soaked their coarse unbolted wheat flour bread in 
a gritty, black coffee syrup. 1 

When the sheep and goats were turned out of the kraal to 
graze on the patches of grass and the stunted thorns of the veld, 
the children ran away after them and roamed over the pasture 
land all day long like the flocks. There was no daily round of 
work for them. The black servants were the shepherds of the 
flocks, and did the slovenly housework, under the indolent eye 
of the Boer and his vrouw, for the poorest farmer would not 
work with his own hands except at a pinch. His boys and girls 
had never seen a doll or a toy of any kind, but the instinct of 
childhood will find playthings on the face of the most barren 
karroo, and the Jacobs children were luckily close to the edge of 
a river which was strewn with uncommonly beautiful pebbles, 
mixed with coarser gravel. 

Here were garnets with their rich carmine flush, the fainter 
rose of the carnelian, the bronze of jasper, the thick cream of 
chalcedony, heaps of agates of motley hues, and many shining 

1 " Life with the Boers in the Orange Free State," by a resident English physi- 
cian's wife, New York, 1899. 


rock crystals. 1 From this party-colored bed the children picked 
whatever caught their eye and fancy, and rilled their pockets with 
their chosen pebbles. So a poor farmer's child found playthings 
scattered on a river bank which a little prince might covet, and 
the boy might have skimmed the face of the river with one little 
white stone that was worth more than his father's farm. Fortu- 
nately for the future of South Africa, he did not play ducks and 
drakes with this particular stone, which he found one day in the 
early spring of 1867, but carried it home in his pocket and 
dropped it with a handful of other pebbles on the farmhouse 
floor. 2 

A heap of these party-colored stones was so common a sight 
in the yard or on the floor of a farmhouse on the banks of the 
Orange and Vaal, that none of the plodding Boers gave it a 
second glance. But when the children tossed the stones about, 
the little white pebble was so sparkling in the sunlight that it 
caught the eye of the farmer's wife. She did not care enough 
for it to pick it up, but spoke of it as a curious stone to a neigh- 
bor, Schalk van Niekerk. Van Niekerk asked to see it, but it 
was not in the heap. One of the children had rolled it away in 
the yard. After some little search it was found in the dust, for 
nobody on the farm would stoop for such a trifle. 

When van Niekerk wiped off the dust, the little stone glit- 
tered so prettily that he offered to buy it. The good vrouw 
laughed at the idea of selling a pebble. " You can keep the 
stone, if you want it," she said. So van Niekerk put it in his 
pocket and carried it home. He had only a vague notion that 
it might have some value, and put it in the hands of a travelling 
trader, John O'Reilly, who undertook to find out what kind of 
a stone the little crystal was, and whether it could be sold. He 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Charles Alfred Payton, Lon- 
don, 1872. "South Africa Diamond Fields," Morton, New York, 1877. 
"Diamonds and Gold of South Africa," Henry Mitchell of Kimberley, London, 

2 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. "South Africa," Theal, London, 


showed the stone to several Jews in Hopetown and in Coles- 
berg, a settlement farther up the Orange River Valley. No 
one of these would give a penny for it. " It is a pretty stone 
enough," they said, "probably a topaz, but nobody would pay 
anything for it." 

Perhaps O'Reilly would have thrown the pebble away, if it 
had not come under the eye of the acting Civil Commissioner 
at Colesberg, Mr. Lorenzo Boyes. Mr. Boyes found on trial 
that the stone would scratch glass. 

" I believe it to be a diamond," he observed gravely. 1 
O'Reilly was greatly cheered up. "You are the only man 

I have seen," he said, " who 
says it is worth anything. 
Whatever it is worth you 
shall have a share in it." 

" Nonsense," broke in 
Dr. Kirsh, a private apothe- 
cary of the town, who was 
present, " I'll bet Boyes a 
new hat it is only a topaz." 
" I'll take the bet," re- 
plied Mr. Boyes, and at his 
suggestion the stone was 
sent for determination to the 
John O'Reilly. foremost mineralogist of the 

colony, Dr. W. Guybon Atherstone, residing at Grahamstown. 
It was so lightly valued that it was put in an unsealed envelope 
and carried to Grahamstown in the regular post-cart. 

When the post-boy handed the letter to Dr. Atherstone, 
the little river stone fell out and rolled away. The doctor 
picked it up and read the letter of transmission. 2 Then he 
examined the pebble expertly and wrote to Mr. Boyes : " I 
congratulate you on the stone you have sent to me. It is a 

1 Lorenzo Boyes (statement furnished to author), 1899. 

2 W. Guybon Atherstone ; Lorenzo Boyes, 1899. " Among the Diamonds," 



veritable diamond, weighs twenty-one and a quarter carats, and 
is worth ^500. It has spoiled all the jewellers' files in Grahams- 
town, and where that came from there 
must be lots more. Can I send it to 
Mr. Southey, Colonial Secretary ? " 

This report was a revelation which 
transformed the despised Karrooland as 
the grimy Cinderella was transfigured 
by the wand of her fairy godmother. 
The determination was so positive and 
the expertness of the examiner so well 
conceded that Sir Philip Wodehouse, 
the Governor at the Cape, bought the Mr - Lorenzo Boyes< 

rough diamond at once, at the value fixed by Dr. Atherstone and 
confirmed by the judgment of M. Henriette, the French consul 
in Cape Town. 1 The stone was sent immediately to the Paris 
Exhibition, where it was viewed with much interest, but its dis- 
covery, at first, did not cause any great sensation. The occa- 
sional finding of a diamond in a bed of pebbles had been 
reported before from various parts of the globe, and there was 

no assurance in this discovery of any 
considerable diamond deposits. 

Meanwhile Mr. Boyes hastened 
to Hopetown and to van Niekerk's 
farm, to search along the river shore 
where the first diamond was found. 
He prodded the phlegmatic farmers 
and their black servants, raked over 
many bushels of pebbles for two 
weeks, but no second diamond repaid 
his labor. Still the news of the find- 
Dr. w. Guybon Atherstone. ing of the first stone made the farmers 

near the river look more sharply at every heap of pebbles in the 
hope of finding one of the precious " blink klippe " (bright stones), 

1 "South Africa," Theal. Lorenzo Boyes, 1899. "Diamonds and Geld 
of South Africa," Theodore Reunert, 1893. 


as the Boers named the diamond, and many bits of shining rock 
crystal were carefully pocketed, in the persuasion that the glit- 
tering stones were diamonds. But it was ten months from the 
time of the discovery at Hopetown before a second diamond 
was found, and this was in a spot more than thirty miles away, 
on the river bank below the junction of the Vaal and Orange 
rivers. Mr. Boyes again hastened to the place from which the 
diamond had been taken, but he failed again to find companion 
stones, though he reached the conclusion that the diamond had 
been washed down stream by the overflowing of the Vaal. 1 

From the Orange River the search passed up the Vaal, where 
the beds of pebbles were still more common and beautiful. The 
eyes of the native blacks were much quicker and keener in 
such a quest than those of the stolid Boer, who scarcely troubled 
himself to stoop for the faint chance of a diamond. But no 
steady or systematic search was undertaken by anybody, and it 
was not until the next year, 1868, that a few more diamonds were 
picked up on the banks of the Vaal by some sharp-sighted 
Koranas.' 2 The advance of discovery was so slow and disap- 
pointing that there seemed only a faint prospect of the realization 
of the cheering prediction of Dr. Atherstone, which was scouted 
by critics who were wholly incompetent to pass upon it. Even 
the possibility of the existence of diamond deposits near the 
junction of the Orange and Vaal was flatly denied by a preten- 
tious examiner who came from England to report on the Hope- 
town field. It was gravely asserted that any diamonds in that 
field must have been carried in the gizzards of ostriches from 
some far-distant region, and any promotion of search in the 
field was a bubble scheme. 

To this absurd and taunting report Dr. Atherstone replied 
with marked force and dignity, presenting the facts indicating 
the existence of diamond-bearing, deposits, and adding: "Suf- 
ficient has been already discovered to justify a thorough and 
extensive geological research into this most interesting country, 
and I think for the interest of science and the benefit of the 

1 Lorenzo Boyes, 1899. 2 " South Africa," Theal, London, 1888-1893. 


Colony a scientific examination of the country will be under- 
taken. So far from the geological character of the country mak- 
ing it impossible, I maintain that it renders it probable that very 
extensive and rich diamond deposits will be discovered on proper 
investigation. This I trust the Home Government will author- 
ize, as our Colonial exchequer is too poor to admit of it." 1 

There was no official response to this well-warranted sug- 
gestion, for it had hardly been penned when the announcement 
of a remarkable discovery aroused such an excitement and such 
a rush to the field that no government exploration was needed. 
In March, 1869, a superb white diamond, weighing 83.5 carats, 
was picked up by a Griqua shepherd boy on the farm Zendfon- 
tein, near the Orange River.' 2 Schalk van Niekerk bought this 
stone for a monstrous price in the eyes of the poor shepherd, 
500 sheep, 10 oxen, and a horse, but the lucky purchaser sold 
it easily for ^11,200 to Lilienfeld Brothers of Hopetown, and 
it was subsequently purchased by Earl Dudley for ^2 5,000.* 
This extraordinary gem, which soon became famous as " the 
Star of South Africa," drew all eyes to a field which could yield 
such products, and the existence and position of diamond beds 
was soon further assured and defined by the finding of many 
smaller stones in the alluvial gravel on the banks of the Vaal. 

Alluvial deposits form the surface ground on both sides of 
this river, stretching inland for several miles. In some places 
the turns of the stream are frequent and abrupt, and there are 
many dry water-courses which were probably old river channels. 
The flooding and winding of the river partly accounts for the 
wide spreading of the deposits, but there has been a great abrasion 
of the surface of the land, for the water-worn gravel sometimes 
covers even the tops of the ridges and kopjes along the course 
of the river. 

This gravel was a medley of worn and rolled chips of basalt, 
sandstone, quartz, and trap, intermingled with agates, garnets, 

1 W. Guybon Atherstone, 1868. 2 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 
3 Ibid. (Accounts of this discovery differ somewhat.) Vide Theal's " South 
Africa," Reunert's "Diamonds and Gold," etc. 


peridot, jasper, and other richly colored pebbles, lying in and on 
a bedding of sand and clay. Below this alluvial soil was in some 
places a calcareous tufa, but usually a bed rock of melaphyre or 
a clayey shale varying in color. Scattered thickly through the 
gravel and the clay along the banks were heavy boulders of 
basalt and trap which were greatly vexing in after days to the 
diamond diggers. 1 

For a stretch of a hundred miles above the Mission Station 
at Pniel the river flows through a series of rocky ridges, rolling 
back from either bank to a tract of grassy, undulating plains. 
Fancy can scarcely picture rock heaps more contorted and mis- 
shapen. Only prodigious subterranean forces could have so 
rent the earth's crust and protruded jagged dykes' of metamor- 
phic, conglomerate, and amygdaloid rocks, irregularly traversed 
by veins of quartz, and heavily sprinkled with big bare boulders 
of basalt and trap. Here the old lacustrine sedimentary forma- 
tion of the South African high veld north of the Zwarte Bergen 
and Witte Bergen ranges has plainly been riven by volcanic 
upheaval. The shale and sandstone of the upper and lower 
Karoo beds have been washed away down to an igneous rock 
lying between the shale and the sandstone. It was along this 
stretch of the river that the first considerable deposit of diamonds 
in South Africa was uncovered. 2 

For more than a year since the discovery of the first diamond 
there had been some desultory scratching of the gravel along the 
Vaal by farmers and natives in looking for " blink klippe," and 
a few little rough diamonds had been found by the Hottentots, 
as before noted ; but the first systematic digging and sifting of 
the ground was begun by a party of prospectors from Natal at 
the Mission Station of Hebron. This was the forerunner of the 

1 "Diamonds and Gold of South Africa," Reunert, Cape Town, 1893. 
"The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. "Among the 
Diamonds," 1870-1871. 

2 " Diamonds and Gold of South Africa," Reunert, 1893. " Among the 
Diamonds," 1870-1871. "South Africa," Theal, 1888-1893. "On 
Diamonds," Sir William Crookes, London, 1897. 


second Great Trek to the Vaal from the Cape, a myriad of 
adventurers that spread down the stream like a locust swarm, 
amazing the natives, worrying the missionaries, and agitating the 
pioneer republics on the north and the east. 1 

The first organized party of prospectors at Hebron on the 
Vaal was formed at Maritzburg in Natal, at the instance of 
Major Francis, an officer in the English army service, then 
stationed at that town. Captain Rolleston was the recog- 
nized leader, and after a long plodding march over the Drakens- 
berg and across the veld, the little company reached the valley 
of the Vaal in November, 1869. Up to the time of its arrival 
there had been no systematic washing of the gravel edging the 
river. Two experienced gold diggers from Australia, Glenie 
and King, and a trader, Parker, had been attracted to the 
field like the Natalians by the reported discoveries, and were 
prospecting on the line of the river when Captain Rolleston's 
party reached Hebron. 2 Their prospecting was merely looking 
over the surface gravel for a possible gem, but the wandering 
Koranas were more sharp-sighted and lucky in picking up the 
elusive little crystals that occasionally dotted the great stretches 
of alluvial soil. 

It was determined by Captain Rolleston to explore the 
ground as thoroughly as practicable from the river's edge for a 
number of yards up the bank, and the washing began on a tract 
near the Mission Station. The Australian prospectors joined 
the party, and their experience in placer mining was of service 
in conducting the search for diamonds. The workers shovelled 
the gravel into cradles, like those used commonly in Australian 
and American placer washing, picked out the coarser stones by 
hand, washed away the sand and lighter pebbles, and saved the 
heavier mineral deposit, hoping to find some grains of gold as 
well as diamonds above the screens of their cradles. But the 
returns for their hard labor for many days were greatly disap- 
pointing. They washed out many crystals and brilliant pebbles, 

1 "South Africa," Theal, 1888-1893. " Among the Diamonds," 1870- 
1871. 2 " Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 


but never a diamond nor an atom of gold dust. Then they 
pushed down the river more than twenty miles to another camp 
at Klip-drift, opposite the Mission Station at Pniel. Here too 
they washed the ground for days without finding even the tiniest 
gem, and were almost on the point ot abandoning their dishearten- 
ing drudgery, when finally, on the seventh of January, 1870, the 
first reward of systematic work in the field came in the appear- 
ance of a small diamond in one of the cradles. 1 

This little fillip of encouragement determined their continu- 
ance of the work, and a party from British Kaffraria joined 
them in washing the gravel in places that seemed most promis- 
ing along the line of the river. It was agreed that the first 
discovery of rich diamond-bearing ground should be shared 
alike by both parties, but there was nothing to share for 
some weeks. Then some native Koranas were induced to 
point out to the Natalians a gravel-coated hummock or kopje 
near the Klip-drift camp, where they had picked up some small 
diamonds. When the prospectors began the washing of the 
gravel on this kopje, it was soon apparent that a diamond bed 
of extraordinary richness had been reached at last. Good faith 
was kept with the company from Kingwilliamstown, and the 
combined parties worked to the top of their strength in shovel- 
ling and washing the rich bed. The lucky men kept their 
mouths closed, as a rule, and did not intend to make known their 
good fortune ; but such a discovery could not long be concealed 
from visiting traders and roaming prospectors, and before three 
months had passed some prying eye saw half a tumblerful of the 
white sparkling crystals in their camp, and the news spread fast 
that the miners had washed out from two hundred to three hun- 
dred stones, ranging in size from the smallest gems to diamonds 
of thirty carats or more. 2 

Then a motley throng of fortune-hunters began to pour into 
the valley of the Vaal. The first comers were those living 
nearest to the new diamond field, farmers and tradesmen from 
the cattle ranges and little towns of the Orange Free State. 

1 " Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 2 Ibid. 


Some of these were stolid Boers, drawn to the fields as a novel 
and curious spectacle, but disdaining the drudgery of shovelling 
and washing from morning till night for the chance of a tiny 
bright stone. They stared for a while at the laboring diamond 
seekers, and then turned their backs on the field contemptuously, 
and rode home sneering at the mania which was dragging its 
victims for hundreds of miles, over sun-cracked and dusty 
karroos, to hunt for white pebbles in a river bed. Still there 
were many poor farmers who caught the infectious diamond 
fever at sight of the open field and a few sparkling stones, and 
they camped at Klip-drift or went on farther up or down the 
river, to join, as well as they knew how, in the search for 

Following this influx from the Free State came swarming 
in men of every class and condition from the southern English 
Colony, and from the ships lying in the coast ports. The 
larger number were of English descent, but many were Dutch, 
and hardly a nation in Europe was unrepresented. Black 
grandsons of Guinea coast slaves and natives of every dusky 
shade streaked the show of white faces. Butchers, bakers, 
sailors, tailors, lawyers, blacksmiths, masons, doctors, carpenters, 
clerks, gamblers, sextons, laborers, loafers, men of every pur- 
suit and profession, jumbled together in queerer association than 
the comrades in the march to Finchley, fell into line in a 
straggling procession to the Diamond Fields. Army officers 
begged furloughs to join the motley troop, schoolboys ran away 
from school, and women even of good families could not be held 
back from joining their husbands and brothers in the long and 
wearisome journey to the banks of the Vaal. 1 

There was the oddest medley of dress and equipment: shirts 
of woollen, blue, brown, gray, and red, and of linen and 
cotton, white, colored, checked, and striped; trim jackets, cord 
riding-breeches and laced leggings, and " hand me downs " from 

o oo o * 

the cheapest ready-made clothing shops; the yellow oilskins 
and rubber boots of the sailor ; the coarse, brown corduroy and 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 


canvas suits, and long-legged, stiff, leather boots of the miner; 
the ragged, greasy hats, tattered trousers or loin cloths of the 
native tribesmen ; jaunty cloth caps, broad-brimmed felt, bat- 
tered straw, garish handkerchiefs twisted close to the roots of 
stiff black crowns, or tufts of bright feathers stuck in a wiry mat 
of curls ; such a higgledy-piggledy as could only be massed in 
a rush from African coast towns and native kraals to a field of 
unknown requirements, in a land whose climate swung daily be- 
tween a scorch and a chill, where men in the same hour were 
smothered in dust and drenched in a torrent. 

It is doubtful if a single one of this fever-stricken company 
had ever seen a diamond field or had the slightest experience 
in rough diamond winning, but no chilling doubt of them- 
selves or their luck restrained them from rushing to their 
fancied Golconda. Their ideal field was much nearer a mirror 
of the valley of Sindbad than the actual African river bank, and 
it was certain that many would be as bitterly disappointed by 
the rugged stretch of gravel at Klip-drift as the gay Portuguese 
cavaliers were at the sight of the Manica gold placers. 

Everything in the form of a carriage from a chaise to a buck- 
wagon was pressed into service, but the best available transport 
was the big trekking ox-wagon of the Boer pioneer. This was a 
heavily framed, low-hung wagon, about twenty feet long and five 
and a half feet broad. In this conveyance more than a dozen 
men often packed themselves and their camping outfit and food. 
An exceptionally well-equipped party carried bacon, potatoes, 
onions, tea, coffee, sugar, condensed milk, flour, biscuits, dried 
peas, rice, raisins, pickles, and Cape brandy. The total weight 
of load allowed, including the living freight, was limited to 
seven thousand pounds. 1 

East London, the nearest port, was something more than 
four hundred miles from the diamond field, and Cape Town 
nearly seven hundred. Durban, Port Alfred, and Port Elizabeth 
were almost equally distant, as the crow flies, approximately four 

1 " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Charles Alfred Payton, Lon- 
don, 1872. 


hundred and fifty miles ; but the length of the journey to the 
Vaal could not be measured by any bare comparison of air-lined 
distances. The roads, at best, were rough trampled tracks, 
changing, after a rainfall, to beds of mire. Their tortuous 
courses rambled from settlement to settlement, or from one 
farmhouse to another over the veld, and were often wholly lost 
in the shifting sands of the karroo. It was a tedious and diffi- 
cult journey by land even from one seacoast town to another, 
and fifty miles from the coast the traveller was fortunate if his 
way was marked by even a cattle path. 1 

When the rain fell in torrents with the lurid flashes and 
nerve-shaking crash of South African thunder-storms, the dia- 
mond seekers huddled together under the stifling cover of their 
wagons, while fierce gusts shook and strained every strip of 
canvas and water drops spurted through every crevice. In fair 
weather some were glad to spread their blankets on the ground 
near the wagon, and stretch their limbs, cramped by their pack- 
ing like sardines in a box. On the plains they had no fuel for 
cooking except what they could gather of dry bullock's dung. 
Sometimes no headway could be made against the blinding dust- 
storms, that made even the tough African cattle turn tail to the 
blasts, and clogged the eyes and ears and every pore of exposed 
skin with irritating grit and powder. Sometimes the rain fell so 
fast that the river beds were filled in a few hours with muddy 
torrents, which blocked any passage by fording for days and 
even weeks at a time, and kept the impatient diamond seekers 
fuming in vain on their banks. Payton's party was forty-six 
days in its passage from Port Elizabeth to the Diamond Fields 
without meeting with any serious delays, and journeys lasting 
two months were not uncommon. 2 

Still, in spite of all obstacles, privations, and discomforts, the 
long journey to the fields was not wholly monotonous and un- 
pleasant. As there was no beaten way, the prospectors chose 

1 "South Africa," George McCall Theal, 1888-1893. 

2 " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton. " South Africa Dia- 
mond Fields and Journey to Mines," William Jacob Morton, New York, 1877. 


their own path, riding by day and camping at night as their 
fancy led them. In ascending to the tableland of the interior 
from Natal, there were shifting and stirring visions of mountain 
peaks, terraces, gorges, and valleys. 

On the higher terraces there was not the luxuriance of the 
coast, the huge tree ferns with feathery fronds, the towering 
masses of palms, the drooping festoons of climbing vines, the 
exquisite flowers : spiked ansellias with their pale yellow blos- 
soms, barred and spotted with red, pure white, sweet-scented 
clusters of mystacidium, and orchids of marvellous variety and 
hue, but even the highest upland tree growth had beauties of 
its own. On the slopes of the Drakensberg the wild chestnut, 
the Natal mahogany, the white pear and iron wood grow sturdily, 
and the common yellow wood, stink wood, bogabog, and sneeze 
wood flourish in spite of their rude names. 1 

Amid this varied scenery they could linger and wind about 
as they pleased, and every turn of their path revealed new charms 
of line and color. As they descended the mountain flanks some 
marked how the lacustrine deposits of past ages had overspread 
the face of the land with their covering of sandstone and shale, 
even skirting the summits of the highest peaks at a height of 
more than six thousand feet, as was plainly shown on the Com- 
passberg.' 2 On the plateau below they saw how the craggy hills, 
pointed spitz-kopjes, and columnar ridges of the trappean rocks 
projected above the sedimentary cover of the karroo. 

Throughout the Orange Free State, but especially in the 
neighborhood of the valleys of the Orange and Vaal, these vol- 
canic rock elevations are common, sometimes massed in irregular 
rows and often rising in the most jagged and fantastic shapes. 
" When we see them at the surface," wrote the geologist Wyley 
In 1856, "they look like walls running across the country, or 
more frequently form a narrow, stony ridge like a wall that 
has been thrown down. The rock of which they are composed, 
greenstone or basalt, is known by the local name of iron stone, 

1 "The Colony of Natal," J. Forsyth Ingram. 

2 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 


from its great hardness and toughness, and from its great weight. 
The origin of these dykes is well known. They have been pro- 
duced by volcanic agency, which, acting from below upon hori- 
zontal beds of stratified rock, has cracked and fissured them at 
right angles to their planes of stratification, and these vertical 
cracks have been filled up with the melted rock or the lava from 
below. The perpendicular fissures through which it has found 
its way upwards are seldom seen, nor should we expect to see 
much of them, for it is precisely along the line of these that the 
rocks have been most broken up and shattered and the denuda- 
tion has been greatest." 

Even in the crossing of the karroos there were curious and 
awesome sights to attract and impress the mind of a traveller 
beholding for the first time these desert wastes so widely spread 
over the face of South Africa. They differ little in appearance 
except in size. The Great or Central Karroo, which lies beneath 
the foot-hills of the Zwarte Bergen range, has a sweep to the 
north of more than three hundred miles in a rolling plateau, 
ranging in elevation from two to three thousand feet. Day 
after day, as the diamond seekers from Cape Town plodded on 
with their creaking wagons, the same purpled brown face was 
outspread before them of the stunted flowering shrub which has 
given its name to the desert, spotted with patches of sun-cracked 
clay or hot red sand. To some of the Scotchmen this scrub had 
the cheery face of the heather of their own Highlands, and home- 
sick Englishmen would ramble far through the furze to pick the 
bright yellow flowers of plants that recalled the gorse of their 
island homes. 1 These common bushes, rarely rising a foot in 
height, and the thick, stunted camelthorn, were almost the only 
vegetable coating of the desert. 

Straggling over this plane ran the quaint ranges of flat- 
topped hummocks and pointed spitz-kopjes, streaked with 
ragged ravines torn by the floods, but utterly parched for most 
of the year. Shy meerkats, Cynictis penicillata^ weasel-like crea- 

1 Special correspondence London Chronicle and other English journals, Novem- 
ber, 1899. 


tares with furry coats, peered cautiously from their burrows at 
the strange procession of fortune-hunters, and from myriads of 
the mammoth ant-hills that dot the face of the desert innumer- 
able legions of ants swarmed on the sand along the track of the 
wagons. Sometimes at nightfall the queer aard-vark lurked 
upon the ant-heap and licked up the crawling insects by thou- 
sands. Far over the heads of the travellers soared the preda- 
tory eagles and swooping hawks, harrying the pigeons and dwarf 
doves that clustered at daybreak to drink at the edge of every 
stagnant pool. 1 

Even in the earliest years of the Dutch advance into South 
Africa, when wild beasts browsed in troops on every grassy plain 
and valley and the poorest marksman could kill game almost at 
will, the karroo was shunned by almost every living creature 
except in the fickle season of rainfall. The lion skirted the 
desert edge warily, unwilling to venture far from a certain water- 
brook or pool. There was nothing on the bare karroo to tempt 
the rhinoceros from his bed in green-leaved thickets, and only 
the wide-roaming antelopes (trekbok) rambled for pasturage far 
over the sparsely coated and parched desert waste. If this was 
true in the days when the tip of Africa was swarming with animal 
life, it is not surprising that the diamond seekers in 1869 and 1870 
rarely saw any living mark for their rifles when they journeyed 
over the desert. Rock-rabbits, akin to the scriptural coney, 
scampering to their holes, were often the largest game in sight 
for days at a time, and it was counted remarkable luck when any 
hunter put a bullet through a little brown antelope, a grysbok, or 
springbok. 2 The springboks still haunted the Great Karroo, for 
they were particularly fond of its stunted bush growth, and in 
the rainy season many droves of these antelopes could be seen 
browsing warily or flying in panic from the spring of the cheetah, 
the African hunting leopard ; but most of the bigger game, 
blesbok, hartebeest, koodoo, and wildebeest, that used to feed 

1 "A Breath from the Veld," John Guille Millais, London, 1895. "Among 
the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 

2 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 


greedily on the same pasture, had been killed or driven away by 
the keen hunting of the years that followed the taking of the 
Cape by the English. 1 

Sometimes the clear sky of the horizon was blurred by the 
advancing of monstrous swarms of locusts, the " black snow- 
storms " of the natives, sweeping over the face of the land like 
the scourge of devouring flames, chased by myriads of locust 
birds, and coating the ground for miles around at nightfall with 
a crawling, heaving coverlet. Then might be heard the hoarse 

O' O D 

trump of the cranes winging their way over the desert and drop- 
ping on the field strewn with locusts to gorge on their insect 
prey. Or the travellers saw the slate-white secretary bird stalk- 
ing about with his self-satisfied strut and scraping up mouthfuls 
with his eagle-like bill. 

More marvellous than the locust clouds were the amazing 
mirages that deceived even the keen-eyed ostriches with their 
counterfeit lakes and wood-fringed streams, so temptingly near, 
but so provokingly receding, like the fruits hanging over the 
thirsting Tantalus. Sometimes hilltops were reared high above 
the horizon, distorted to mountainous size and melting suddenly 
in thin air or a flying blur. Now a solitary horseman was seen 
to swoop over the desert in the form of a mammoth bird, or a 
troop of antelopes were changed to charging cavalry. No trick 
of illusion and transformation was beyond the conjuring power 
of the flickering atmosphere charged with the radiating heat of 
the desert. 2 

When the prospectors crossed the karroo and entered the 

1 "A Breath from the Veld," John Guille Millais, London, 1895. 

2 Despatches of Julian Ralph and other special correspondents to London jour- 
nals, October-December, 1899. "Sketches and Studies in South Africa," W. J. 
K. Little, London, 1899. "Portraits of the Game and Wild Animals of Southern 
Africa," W. G. Harris, London, 1840. "The Large Game and Natural His- 
tory of South and Southeast Africa," W. H. Drummond, Edinburgh, 1875. 
"Travel and Adventure in Southeast Africa," F. C. Selous, London, 1893. 
"Kloof and Karroo," H. A. Bryden, London, 1889. "Days and Nights by 
the Desert," P. Gillmore, London, 1888. "Gun and Camera in South Africa," 
H. A. Bryden, London, 1893. 


stretches of pasture land which the Dutch called veld, the scenes 
of their marches were much more lively and cheery. Little farm- 
houses dotted the plains and valleys, rude cottages of clay-plas- 
tered stones or rough timbers, but hospitable with fires blazing 
on open hearths, big iron pots hanging from cranes and simmer- 
ing with stews, and broad-faced, beaming vrouws and clusters of 
chunky boys and girls greeted the arrival of an ox-wagon from 
the coast as a welcome splash in the stagnant stream of their daily 
life. 1 

At some of the halting places on the banks of streams, or 
where plentiful water was stored in natural pans or artificial 
ponds, the extraordinary fertility of the irrigated soil of South 
Africa was plainly to be seen in luxuriant gardens, with brill- 
iant flower-beds and heavy-laden fruit trees and vines. Here 
figs, pomegranates, oranges, lemons, and grapes ripened side by 
side, and hung more tempting than apples of Eden in the sight 
of the thirsting, sunburnt, dust-choked men who had plodded 
so far over the parched karroos. They stretched their cramped 
legs and aching backs in the grateful shade of spreading branches, 
and watched with half-shut eyes the white flocks nibbling on the 
pasture land, and the black and red cattle scattered as far as the 
eye could see over the veld. Tame ostriches stalked fearlessly 
about them, often clustering like hens at the door of the farm- 
house to pick up a mess of grain or meal, apparently heedless of 
any approach, but always alert and likely to resent any familiarity 
from a stranger with a kick as sharp and staggering as any ever 
dealt by a mule's hind leg. 

The interior of the homes in these oases was not so invit- 
ing, for the rooms, at best, were small and bare to the eye of 
a townsman. But some were comparatively neatly kept, with 
smoothly cemented floors, cupboards of quaintly figured china 
and earthenware, hangings and rugs of leopard, fox, jackal, and 
antelope skins and brackets of curving horns loaded with hunt- 
ing arms and garnished with ostrich feathers. For the guests 

1 " Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. "The Diamond Diggings of South 
Africa," Payton, 1872. " South Africa Diamond Fields," Morton, 1876. 


there was probably the offer of a freshly killed antelope or sheep ; 
but the farmer's family was often content with " biltong," the 
dried meat that hung in strips or was piled in stacks under his 
curing shed. 

Near every house was the accompanying kraal or open-walled 
circle for the confinement of the flocks at night, built of stones, 
and usually so bedded and filthy with fresh dung that a heavy 
percentage of the farmers' sheep died yearly from foot-rot or scab. 1 
Close to the kraal was the water reservoir for the flocks and the 
household use, unless the farm lay on the bank of an unfailing 
stream. These collections of water were commonly hill drainage, 
stored in long, narrow ponds by rough dams across ravines, or 
the drainage and rainfall filling shallow natural basins which the 
Boers call " pans." In the early morning the birds flew from all 
quarters to these ponds. Wild ducks, geese, plover, sandgrouse, 
and flocks of pigeons and doves hovered over the pools and 
splashed and dabbled in the water, while the blue-gray Kafir 
cranes stalked warily along the brink. 

These basins are quite numerous in the country lying 
between the Orange and the Vaal, as well as throughout the 
Transvaal. The light earth washed down the hill slopes was 
largely calcareous, and incrusted the grasses and roots of the 
basin in a calc-tufa which is almost impervious to water. So 
the pans became excellent natural reservoirs, though there was, 
of course, a heavy loss from evaporation. No calamity is so 
dreaded by the graziers as the failure of their water-supply, for 
it has often caused the loss of a flock and the ruin of the poor 
owner. Therefore the pans are highly valued and strictly re- 
served, and the dams are daily inspected lest a burrowing land 
crab should open the way for a rush of water that would empty 
the reservoir. 2 When a settler was fortunate in getting a tract 
of land with a pan or a water-spring, he almost invariably gave 
the name to his farm, as Dutoitspan, Dorstfontein, Jagersfontein, 

1 " On Veld and Farm," Frances MacNab, London, 1897. "South Africa 
Diamond Fields," Morton, New York, 1877. 

2 " Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 


Bultfontein, names of inconsiderable little patches on the face 
of South Africa, which were destined to become memorable by 
approaching revelations. 1 

Attracted by the good pasturage and water and the sight of 
flowers, fruits, and birds, even the eager diamond seekers were 
not loath to linger for a day at one of these oases and rest them- 
selves and their cattle before pushing on to the Vaal. As they 
drew near to their goal the face of the country began to change. 
After passing the Modder River, the grassy plains stretched 
out wider and longer and more gently undulating, and the mirage 
was more greatly magnifying and illusive. Herds of wild game, 
chiefly springbok, blesbok, hartebeest, wildebeest, and koodoo, 
were now frequently seen, and the ears of the travellers were 
tickled with the cheery karack-karack of flying korhaan and 
the pipes of red-legged plover. There are black headed or veld 
korhaan and bush korhaan. These birds, which are very plenti- 
ful along the Vaal River and about Kimberley, belong to the 
smaller bustard species. The cock bird of the veld korhaan has 
a black head with white spots on the sides. The top of the 
head or crest is of a reddish gray color. The back is also red- 
dish gray, the markings of the feathers being in rings or stripes. 
The wings are black-and-white, and the legs yellow. The hen 
birds have reddish gray heads, but otherwise are similar in feather 
to the cock bird. The bird derives its name from the Dutch 
word knor, to scold, and haan, hen or bird, on account of the 
scolding noise made by the male bird as it rises from the ground. 
The original word, knorhaan, has been corrupted into korhaan. 
The bush korhaan has a gray head with a light blue patch on the 
crown, just back of which is a pink-brown crest an inch and a 
half long. The back is covered with brown-and-white feathers 
with diamond-pointed markings. The lower part of the leg is 
yellow and the upper part blue. The Dutch call one variety 

1 " Achtzehn Jahre in Sud Africa," E. J. Karrstrom, Leipzig, 1899. " Seven 
Years in South Africa," Emil Holub, London, 1881. "South Africa," A. H. 
Keane, London, 1895. "South Africa of To-day," Captain F. E. Younghusband, 
London, 1898. "Ten Years in South Africa," J. W. D. Moodie, London, 
1835. "South Africa," George McCall Theal, 1888-1893. 


of birds somewhat resembling the bush korhaan rudely " dik- 
kops," thick heads, from their appearance when wounded ; but 
they are none the less handsome birds, and they were eagerly 
shot and eaten by the diamond seekers on the way to the fields 
and in the camps on the river. There were great numbers, too, 
of the paauw or cape bustard near the Modder River, and red- 
winged partridges and Guinea fowl that gave a welcome variety 
to the meals of the travellers. 1 

Over the rolling ground the prospectors pressed rapidly to 
the Diamond Fields and soon reached the river border where the 
plains ran into the barrier of ridges of volcanic rocks. Jolting 
heavily over these rough heaps and sinking deeply in the red 
sand wash of the valleys, the heavy ox-wagons were slowly tugged 
to the top of the last ridge above Pniel, opposite the opened 
diamond beds of Klip-drift, where the anticipated Golconda was 
full in sight. Here the Vaal River winds with a gently flowing 
stream, two hundred yards or more in width, through a steeply 
shelving, oblong basin something over a mile and a half in length 
and a mile across. A thin line of willows and cotton-woods 
marked the edge of the stream on both banks. On the descend- 
ing slope toward the river stood the clustering tents and wagons 
of the pilgrims waiting to cross the stream. 

In the dry season the Vaal was easily fordable by ox-wagons 
at a point in this basin, and the ford, which the Boers call 
" drift," gave the name to the shore and camp opposite Pniel, 
"Klip-drift," "Rocky-ford." When the river was swollen 
by rains, the impatient fortune-hunters were forced to wait, fum- 
ing, in sight of the diamond diggings until the flood subsided ; 
but, a few months after the rush began, a big, flat-bottomed ferry- 
boat, called a pont, was constructed to carry over the wagons 
and cattle, while the men crossed in rowboats, making regular 
ferry trips between Pniel and Klip-drift. 

How stirring were the sights and sounds from the ridge at 
Pniel to every newcomer while the swarming diamond seekers 
were crossing the river and spreading out over the northern 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 


bank! the confused clustering at the ford the rambling of 
stragglers along the shore the gravel cracking and grinding 
under the hoofs of the horses and ponies racing along the bank 
and rearing, plunging, and bucking at the check of the bits and 
prick of the spurs the outspanning and inspanning of hun- 
dreds of oxen the swaying and creaking wagons the writh- 
ing, darting lash of the cracking whips of the drivers the 
sulking, balking oxen, driven into long, straining lines that 
dragged the ponderous, canvas-arched "prairie-schooners" 
through the turbid water and over the quaking sands the 
whistling, shouting, yelling, snorting, neighing, braying, squeak- 
ing, grinding, splashing babel the scrambling up the steep 
Klip-drift bank the scattering of the newcomers the 
perching of the white-topped wagons and the camp-tents like 
monstrous gulls on every tenable lodging place on bank, gully, 
and hillside the scurrying about for wood and water the 
crackling, smoking, flaming heaps of the camp fires the 
steaming pots and kettles swinging on cranes the great placer 
face, pockmarked with holes and heaps of reddish sand, clay, 
and gravel the long stretches of the miners' rockers and 
troughs at the water's edge and chief of all in interest, the 
busy workmen, sinking pits and throwing out shovelfuls of 
earth, filling buckets and hauling them up with ropes, loading 
and shaking the rockers, driving carts full of heavy gravel to 
the water troughs, returning for new loads, scraping and sorting 
the fine, heavy pebbles on tables or flat rocks or boards spread 
on the ground ! 

No labored, crawling recital can compass and picture in 
print any approach to the instant impress on the eye and ear 
of the moving drama on the banks of the Vaal. Observer after 
observer groped vainly for graphic comparison. " Klip-drift is a 
swarm of bees whose hive is upset," said one , " a bank lined 
with ant-hills," wrote another, prosily ; " a wild rabbit warren, 
scurried by a fox," ventured a third ; " an insane asylum 
turned loose on a beach," sneered a fourth. It was a mush- 
room growth of a seething placer-mining camp in the heart 


of the pasture lands of South Africa. To old Australian and 
American miners it had a patent likeness to familiar camps and 
diggings, but its local coloring was glaringly vivid and unique. 1 

1 " Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. " The Diamond Diggings of South 
Africa," Charles Alfred Payton, London, 1872. " South Africa Diamond Fields," 
Morton, New York, 1877. "To the Cape for Diamonds," Frederick Boyle, 
London, 1873. "Diamond Fields of South Africa, by One who has visited the 
Fields," New York, 1872. 

Pniel Diggings. 



EFORE calling to view the spreading of the 
diamond seekers along the line of the Vaal 
River, the rearing of successive camps, and the 
growing pursuit of gems in the gravel, it is 
essential to trace the progress of diamond 
mining from its original development on the 
water-shed of the Indus, and to account in great measure for 
the blundering, confusion, and failures in the new Diamond 
Fields by showing how crude and imperfect were any known 
methods of winning the precious stones at the time of the South 
African discoveries. 

From earliest history there had been no change and no 
prospect of change in the diamond mining of India (described 
in Chapter i). In the Deccan diamond fields, as in the other 
congested districts, there was such an influx of poor natives that 
no labor-saving contrivances were sought for, and the diamond- 
bearing gravels were lifted and washed by hand as they had been 
by the first generation of workers. There had been no compe- 
tition with the Deccan field, and no considerable production 
outside of it, until the diamonds of the Brazilian fields were 
made known to the Portuguese in the year 1728. As soon as 
the Home Government learned of this discovery, the diamonds 
in Brazil were declared to be State property, and for a hundred 
years diamond mining was a Crown monopoly. This con- 
dition was a clog to any possible advance in the methods of 
mining. There was a constant drain on the industry without 
any effort to develop it systematically, thoroughly, or economi- 



The chief deposits were found, at first, in river beds and 
ravines in a breccia of clay, quartz pebbles, and sand, charged 
with oxide of iron. Some of the richest beds were opened along 
the rivers Jequetinhonha and Pardo in the valley of Sejues, and 
on the line of the rivers Aboite, Andaja, da Serreno, da Prata, 
and San Francisco in the province of Minas Geraes. 1 

The diamond-bearing ground was worked under govern- 
ment agents or leased to contractors. Quick returns were the 
first object. So gangs of slaves were put on the grounds, 
regardless of loss, if only the cream of the fields was skimmed. 
In the dry season the beds of the smaller sierran streams were 
nearly or wholly dry. Underlying the surface wash of sand in 
the bed was the formacao or cascalho, heavy diamond-bearing 
gravel intermixed with boulders. The alluvial soil was gen- 
erally from eight to twenty feet thick, a silicious sand chiefly, 
deep colored by ferruginous clay. The diamonds and other 
minerals of high specific gravity were held in the bottom layer 
of this alluvium, usually cemented in a coarse pudding-stone of 
quartz and itacolumite the cascalho. The sand was rudely 
scraped away or carried off in pans, the boulders pried out, and 
the cascalho exposed. Then the gravel was collected labori- 
ously in pans and piled in heaps to await the rainy season, when 
the streams filled the dry courses and there was water at hand 
for washing the gravel. 

Bacus or shallow pits were sunk in the sand along the brink 
of the streams, and in these pits a few panfuls of gravel were 
thrown. The bottom of the bacu was made to slope so that 
the dashing of water on the gravel heap would readily wash away 
the clinging sand and the lighter and larger stones. The expert 
slaves washed the heaps in the bacus with splashes of water cast 

1 "The Diamond Fields of Brazil," Report of United States Minister Bryan, 
March 12, 1899, conveying report of American Secretary of Legation, Dawson. 
" A Treatise on Gems," Lewis Feuchtwanger, M.D., 1867. "An Account 
of Diamonds found in Brazil," James Castro de Sarmente, M.D. "Genuine 
Account of the Present State of the Diamond Trade in the Dominions of Portugal," 
a Lisbon merchant, London, 1785. "Travels in South America," J. J. von 


from concave wooden plates with a peculiar whirl which has- 
tened the separation of the heavier gravel. This concentrate, 
containing most of the diamonds in the cascalho, was then 
washed again in a batea, a wooden dish with a depression in the 
centre. By dexterous shaking and whirling motions of the batea 
filled with water and a few handfuls of gravel, the lighter gravel 

Ue'.ports' Hope, Vaal River Diggings. 

was carried to the rim and washed or scraped away, and dia- 
monds mixed with heavier pebbles were collected in the hol- 
lowed centre of the dish. A gentle tilt of the batea drained off 
the water, and the precious stones were picked from the other 
pebbles by hand. 

Sometimes the formacao was deposited in an inclined mov- 
able trough or cradle on whose face fifteen to eighteen pounds 
were spread out at a time. Then a carefully regulated stream 
of water was allowed to run through this deposit into a lower 
trough and gutter while the cradle was rocked continually. 
When the water ran off clear from the lower trough, the work- 
ing negro would pick out the stones in the cradle with his fin- 
gers, until only the finest pebbles remained, which he scraped 
over and examined with the closest attention to detect the pos- 
sible presence of diamond crystals. 1 

1 "A Treatise on Gems," Feuchtwanger, 1867. Report of United States 
Minister to Brazil, March, 1899. 


This was a slow and tedious process, at best. The percent- 
age of precious stones won from the gravel necessarily depended 
on the care, expertness, and eyesight of the workers. Experi- 
ence proved that fairly expert gold placer miners were not 
equally competent in handling diamond-bearing gravel, and slave 
labor was not diligent or trustworthy. The loss was increased 
by the greedy pressure for big and quick returns, and the pre- 
mium set on the extraction of large stones. 

When, in the course of mining, streams were diverted from 
their beds by dams and sluiceways, there was urgent need of 
hurrying, for the frail dams could not bear the rush of a flood 
in the rainy season, and it was necessary to remove the gravel 
from the stretches of river beds before the heavy rains fell. 

" - .y-.-T>* .*, <; *, ,' ^5^^'^^S?,i4^ ^ MBJL ' - 

.. ..-? " tM-V- '". ** \'" >' ? '^^^' "^ V- 

"* < '* "-/->" ,c,%. t> 

Diggers' Camps on the Vaal River. 

Often the formacao was buried under thirty feet or more of 
sand, and all this overlying mass had to be scooped up and 
carried off as well as the layer of gravel. As the slaves had 
nothing better than pans for this work, the beds were covered 
with swarms of negroes bearing pans on their heads and nibbling 
away at the ground like ants in the effort to reach the gravel 
before the floods came. In the reckless haste many tracts of 


diamond-bearing gravel were buried under ground too deep for 
profitable working, or covered by the waste of flooded rivers. 

As the mines advanced up the hillsides, following the course 
of the mountain streams, it was seen that there were gupiaras or 
deposits of diamond-bearing gravel along the steep slopes of the 
ravines, and these were worked by carrying the gravel to the 
banks of streams, or by cutting sluiceways to the deposits. 
Finally, on the sierran ridges and plateaus the conglomerate beds 
were reached, from which the deposits in the river beds had 
been washed by the mountain streams. This conglomerate was 
chiefly itacolumite, a micaceous sandstone, accompanied by 
mica-schist and penetrated irregularly by quartz veins. This 
was the prevailing composite in the Serro de San Antonio, in 
which the Jequetinhonha rises in the Serro de Matta de Corda, 
the fountain head of the Rio Francisco. 

Here the diamonds were not as thickly sprinkled as they 
were in the cascalho concentrate, but the quantity was sufficient 
to make extraction profitable, if the conglomerate could be dis- 
integrated and washed. This was effected by collecting rain 
water in pools at points above the conglomerate and carrying 
down the water through ditches into gullies cut in the beds. 
By the flow of the water, the formacao was separated from the 
mass of rocks and sand. This device worked well, but owing 
to the scarcity of water, the washing could only be continued for 
a few weeks, at most, in the course of a year. In 1832 mining 
in these fields was opened to the public, but the most accessible 
and prolific beds had been worked, and there was little apparent 
encouragement for the investment of capital in any large under- 
taking which might have advanced the science of diamond 
winning. It is said that more than half of the diamonds pro- 
duced in Brazil were stolen by the workmen and sold to contra- 
band dealers, by whom they were secretly sent out of the country. 

Outside of the Indian and Brazilian fields no considerable 
source of supply had been discovered anywhere. Some dia- 
mond-bearing ground had been found in Borneo, which yielded 
for many years a dribbling return, and in 1829 the first-known 


diamond of Russia was discovered on the west flank of the Ural 
Mountains by Humboldt and Rose, in a gold placer field near 
the iron mines of Bissersk. Here the prevailing rock forma- 
tion, like that in the upper diamond fields of Brazil, was itacolu- 
mite, with an admixture of mica and iron pyrites. 1 The debris 
washed into a few valleys beneath this range yielded a meagre 
return to the searchers, but there was nothing to inspire any 
ardent working, and in Bohemia, Australia, Mexico, and the 
United States, the picking up of a few isolated specimens was 
noted as a curious occurrence rather than as the foundation of 
any hope of a productive diamond field. 2 

So, at the time of the discoveries of diamonds on the banks 
of the Vaal River, there was no known method for the extraction 
of diamonds beyond the shovel of the Indian, the batea of the 
Brazilian, or the cradle of the gold miner. There was no antici- 
pation, on the part of the diamond seekers, of any formation in 
Africa except the diamond-bearing gravel of alluvial deposits, 
and the prospectors of the first rush did not seek for diamonds 
beyond the gravel along the banks of the Vaal. 

The Early Mining at Klip-drift, now called Barkly West. 

The first waves of the influx from the southern country and 
coast towns were warmly greeted by the small parties at work 
on the Vaal. The diggers were squatters, without any legal 
title to an inch of the river bank, as they very well knew. But 
they relied on actual possession without contest, for their rocky 
field was so apparently worthless that no farmer had cared to 
secure it. They did not trouble their heads with any question- 
ing whether the South African Republic covered their shore 
line, or whether any native tribe laid claim to it, but they were 

1 "A Treatise on Gems," Feuchtwanger, 1867. "Notices sur les Diamants 
de 1'Oural," Parrot. "Transactions of the Imperial Russian Mineralogical Soci- 
ety," at St. Petersburg, 1842. " De Novis quibusdam Fossilibus quae in mon- 
tibus Uraliis inveniuntur," Gustav Rose, 1839. 

2 < Gems and Precious Stones of North America," Kunz, 1890. 


so weak in numbers that they had some fear of possible attack 
from the neighboring Koranas and Griquas, or other natives 
who might covet their oxen and arms and supplies, as well as 
their hard-won gems. 1 In view of the abject state of the few 
surviving Hottentots on the Vaal, any dread of their hostility 
seemed absurd, but the miners did not know how weak the 
natives were, and their new-found treasure unsteadied their 
nerves. So they were glad to see a rally of prospectors on the 
fields large enough to scare off any menacing natives. 

The early comers picked out irregular patches of ground 
here and there, to suit their fancy, and dug and strayed along 
the river banks as they pleased, prospecting on any unoccupied 
spot. There was no precise limit to the size of any claim. One 
party would pounce on a whole hillock, like the prolific " Natal 
kopje," and another would occupy a hundred feet or more of 
shore line. There was no apparent need of jostling one another, 
when any square rod for miles along a river bank was as thickly 
sprinkled with diamonds as another, so far as any of the pro- 
spectors could judge. Still, the known yield of the Natal kopje 
drew preference to locations around it, and the product of other 
neighboring placers was so enticing that the mass of diggers 
concentrated at Klip-drift. 

This massing made it necessary to agree on some defined 
limits of ground which a man could reserve for his own work- 
ing, or combine with the sections assigned to companions. To 
fix and make this assignment a "Diggers' Committee" was 
chosen by an informal mass meeting of the prospectors, which 
made simple regulations controlling the working of the river 
diggings. It was agreed that the size of a location should be 
thirty feet square, and that title should be conveyed by a certificate 
from the supervising committee. The water's edge along the 
river was open to anybody wherever it was possible to set a 
trough or a miner's cradle without interfering with other ground- 
washing fixtures already in place, but locations might begin a few 
yards from the river. 2 So there was soon a close-set fringe of 
1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871, John Noble. 2 Ibid. 


cradles and water-troughs at the bottom of the Klip-drift bank, 
and the ridged and gullied slope for hundreds of yards inland 
was pitted with holes from ten to thirty feet square, and ranging 
in depth from four to twenty-five feet. If the river shore in 
line with the parallel claim was too thick set with cradles to 
admit a new washing machine, or if the claim was high up on 
the bank, water for washing was sometimes carried up from the 
river in carts to the working ground. Alluvial soil covered the 
face of the basin, more or less thickly, for a stretch of half a 
mile from the river, lying even on the tops of the kopjes, except 

River Diggings at Gong Gong, 1880. 

where rugged boulders and blocks of basalt and trap protruded 
stiffly above the coating of gravel. 

The choice of location was largely determined by fancy, 
rather than any solid reason. Some preferred light colored 
patches of gravel to dark, but would have been puzzled by any 
call to justify their choice. Others sought for tops of kopjes, 
with a supposition that the rains had washed the light gravel 
downhill and left the heavier deposit with the diamonds on the 
crown of the hillocks and ridges. 1 It was generally observed, 
however, that diamond crystals were most plentiful in spots 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Charles Alfred Payton, London, 


where garnets and peridot were thickly deposited in the gravel, 
and this observation was in accord with current accounts of 
mining in other diamond fields. So the occurrence of these 
red and green pebbles was commonly hailed as an assurance of 
the presence of diamonds, and gravel so charged was washed 
and sorted with exceptional care. But there was no concentrated 
deposit in this field like the cascalho in the Brazilian river 
valleys, and the labor of washing the thick mass of loose gravel 
was necessarily great. 

There were no appliances for handling and concentrating the 
gravel marking any noticeable advance above the slow and labo- 
rious methods of the Brazilian and Indian placer workers. The 
deposit was a mass of gravel and sand, thickly sprinkled through- 
out with heavy boulders of basalt and melaphyre which were 
laboriously pried and dragged out of the shallow pits sunk by 
the miners. 1 The mixed gravel and sand was shovelled into 
wheelbarrows or carts and taken to the river's edge, where it was 
dumped into heaps on the ground, or in troughs sunk in the 
bank. Then the gravel was washed in cradles, with two or 
three screens of perforated iron, or zinc, or wire mesh, set to 
form partitions with discharge holes so graduated that the larger 
stones were held above the upper and coarser screen, while the 
sand and lighter gravel flowed out through the upper and lower 
screen holes. Meanwhile the cradle was more or less expertly 
shaken to cause a deposit of the gravel of high specific gravity 
on the bottom between the screens. The worthless stones in 
the upper part of the cradle were then picked and scooped out 
by hand and thrown away, while the concentrate was taken out 
carefully and carried to the sorting table, an ordinary deal stand, 
or any level wooden or iron structure, or to a flat stone. Here 
the deposit was spread out thinly and sorted over inch by 
inch with a short scraper of hoop iron, or any other thin strip, 
while the appearance of a diamond was more or less keenly 
watched for.' 2 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Charles Alfred Payton, London, 
1872. * Ibid. 


Vaal River Diggings. 

This washing machine was practically the same as the Aus- 
tralian gold placer miner's cradle, or the American rocker, and it 
had been used for years on the Brazilian diamond fields, though 
the screening of the Vaal was probably more exact. But the 
Brazilian negroes had become far more expert by long practice 
and training than the green workers on the line of the Vaal, and 
the handling of the concentrate in their bateas was extraordinarily 
deft. It has been demonstrated over and over again in placer 
fields that inexperienced washers cannot compete with trained 
hands in concentrating gold dust, and even expert gold placer 
workers often failed to handle diamond-bearing gravel efficiently. 
So it is not surprising that many of the awkward adventurers 
in the new fields lost heart completely at their failure to extract 
any diamond from the masses of gravel which they dug and 
washed so laboriously ; and it is practically certain that the per- 
centage of gems saved, at first, was below the average winning 
from the Brazilian sands. 

The irregularity of the distribution of diamonds in the shore 
bed was greatly perplexing and disappointing to the groping 
locaters. The precious stones were strewed in the gravel in a 
scattering way that defied any calculation. Here and there was 
a rich patch of ground, while tracts all around it, precisely simi- 
lar in a surface view, held only a few small diamonds or were 


hopelessly barren. Even in the best placers there were apparent 
freaks of deposit that sorely puzzled the diggers, and almost pro- 
voked the belief in the dropping of the gems by whimsical genii 
rather than by the play of natural agencies. One man, working 
side by side with another for weeks in adjoining claims, would 
not find one precious stone, while his neighbor was adding daily 
to his little sparkling heap. Even when claims were so split up 
that a digger could hardly turn about without brushing against 
a comrade there was the like insolvable contrast of gem-studded 
gravel and worthless pebbles. Often, too, when a claim had 
been abandoned by an unlucky miner, the next man who jumped 
into the deserted hole would unearth in a dav a superb diamond, 
and, perhaps, wash out in. a week y scors more o> precious 
stones/ 1 

The miners were, as a body, so orderly, so tenacious of their 
own rights under the established regulations, and so prudent in 
restricting the possible extent of monopolized ground, that there 
was little "claim jumping" or bitter wrangling. The provision 
against loafing or the holding of unworked claims on speculation 
was sufficiently sharp. The neglect to work a claim for three 
days consecutively forfeited the holder's license, and the ground 
was then open for the issue of a new certificate to the first claim- 
ant. For many months all unoccupied ground in the Klip-drift 
camp was greedily pounced upon by newcomers to the fields. 
So this part of the river basin was continuously covered with a 
busy swarm of workers, digging, washing, sorting, driving carts, 
and stirring in all the daily occupations of camp life. Where 
one man lost heart and went off prospecting up or down the 
river, or plodded wearily homewards, another was ready to take 
his place in a moment and continue the unflagging round of 

It was soon perceived that such diamond placer digging 
was inevitably a gambling speculation, and few complained 
loudly of their hard luck, or bitterly grudged the success of 
their neighbors. When an unusually large stone was found, 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 18701871, John Noble. 


there was commonly a shout and a rallying of exultant friends 
around the lucky finder, and all through the fields a redoubled 
fervor of work from the spur of the signal success. Every one 
felt that the good fortune of a comrade might be his own the 
next moment, and, if this hope was cast down, the diggers toiled 
on with indomitable pluck and sanguine spirit, ever lifting the 
glittering image of better luck some day. So the rasping of 
shovels, the splashing of gravel, the rumbling of carts, the 
dumping of loads, and the rattle of cradles went on incessantly 
with a lively din from morning till night. 

River Diggings. Waldek's Plant. 

For the sorting of the concentrated gravel shady spots were 
chosen beneath spreading tree-branches, where tables were set, 
or under the cover of canvas screens stretched over posts. 
Here the miners bent over the thin layer of gravel, scraping 
along the pebbles bit by bit, and gluing their eyes to the sliding 
stones in anxious search for the coveted tiny white crystals ; or 
stretched out at full length on their stomachs, they scraped the 
gravel over the face of the boards or iron sheets laid flat on the 
ground. In this branch of diamond winning, where keen eyes 
were essential, the native blacks were largely employed, some- 
times under close watch of a white overseer, and sometimes 
without any oversight. Part of the black sorters were strictly 


Pniel Diggings, Vaal River. 

faithful and honest, as was shown by test after test. One 
boy brought straight to his master a diamond of eighty carats, 
which his quick eye detected in the roots of an old stump that 
he had been told to dump into the river. Another returned the 
counterfeit stones that his employer had purposely dropped in 
the concentrate. 1 But all were not equally trustworthy, and 
many fine stones were filched from the tables by nimble-fingered 
sorters, even under the eye of a wary overseer. When the Boer 
farmers came to the fields, they often brought their families with 
them, and it was a common sight to see father and sons digging 
and washing, while the mother and daughters sat on the ground 
industriously picking over a layer of pebbles. Sometimes, too 

Klip-drift, Early River Diggings. 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871, John Noble. " The Diamond Dig- 
gings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 



the wives and sisters of English miners, even women who had 
rarely soiled their white hands before, might be seen sorting 
river gravel as ardently as any prospector on the line of the 

When newcomers roamed about sight-seeing over the fields, 
they were surprised to note how rarely their presence drew even 
a fleeting glance. Scarcely any one of all the groping swarm of 
diggers, washers, and sorters, white or black, men or women, 
diverted an eye for a moment from the intent absorption of the 
search for the tiny crystals embedded in the vast stretches of 
gravel. Eternal vigilance is the watchword of diamond winning 
as well as of liber- 
ty. It was keenly 
felt by the dia- 
mond seekers that 
a fortune might 
slip through their 
hands in the shift- 
ing and twinkling 
of an eye. So wan- 
dering strangers 
threaded their 
way among the 
burrows in the 
pitted bank and the diamond sorting tables without attracting any 
more attention than stray pebbles rolling down the gravel heap. 1 

Whenever any one of this curious swarm found a big stone 
he had a prize in his hands, for the precious crystals of the 
Vaal river beds are exceptionally good and free from fractures. 
There were few stones ranging over thirty carats, but ten carat 
stones were not uncommon, and even the tiniest stones of one 
carat or less were usually well shaped. Some were lightly tinged 
with yellow, detracting somewhat from their market value, but 
there was a large percentage of stones perfectly white, or so nearly 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. "The Diamond Diggings of South 
Africa," Payton, 1872. 


colorless as to defy any scrutiny except that of experts. Deep 
orange yellow stones were occasionally found, and shades of 
yellow grading to the finest straw color were represented as well 
as pale blue, brown, and pink, and other hues; but any color 
except white or yellow was rarely to be seen. The commonest 
crystalline form was the octahedron, but perfect dodecahedrons 
were not unusual, and twin stones or a conglomeration of crys- 
tals sometimes appeared. There was no adhering film or enve- 
lope such as commonly dulls the lustre of the Brazilian diamond 
crystals. The stones of the Vaal are clear and bright. 1 

Digging for diamonds never becomes dull drudgery, for there 
is always the glittering possibility in the mind's eye of upheaving 
a king's ransom with the turn of a shovel, and it is far more 
exciting to a novice than mining for gold or any other minerals. 
But the diggers on the Vaal River fields soon learned that the 
actual disclosure of a diamond on the face of the gravel which 
he was shovelling was a very rare occurrence, for only the largest 
stones were likely to be seen in a mass of earth and pebbles, and 
few even of these were actually detected in the sinking of the 
pits on the river banks. So the miners were rarely so absorbed 
in their search that they worked without stopping to eat, but 
they clung to the last gleams of the sun as the miners have done 
in the rich gold pocket placers of America and Australia. The 
diggers and washers went to work usually at the same hour, 
about sunrise, took an hour off for breakfast, and for dinner or 
lunch, and stopped work when the sun went down. In the 
hotter weeks of the African summer season (the summer 
November, December, January, and February is the hot as 
well as the wet season) they did little or no work in the midday, 
and when heavy rain and hail storms swept over the fields, all 
sought for cover. 

1 " South African Diamond Fields and Journey to Mines," William Jacob 
Morton, New York, 1877. " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 
1872. "Diamonds and Gold of South Africa," Mitchell, 1888. "To the 
Cape for Diamonds," Frederic Boyle, London, 1873. "Diamond Fields of South 
Africa, by One who has visited the Fields," New York, 1872. 



Camping on the banks of the Vaal was rarely unpleasant to 
any one accustomed to a life in the open country, and even the 
townsmen found little to grumble about. As soon as they 
reached the Diamond Fields, the prospectors looked about for 
good spots on which to lodge their wagons and pitch their tents. 
Some took to the fields small circular or " bell " tents, but the 
greater part preferred a square or oblong "wall" tent, commonly 
ten feet long and eight wide. From a central ridgepole, 
propped at each end, the canvas roof was stretched to side posts 
four feet high, from which flaps hung to the ground. This 
shelter served as a home for two or three men, and a storehouse 
for their stinted outfit. It was not spacious, but even a little 
tent was a welcome change from the cramped bunking in mass 
under a wagon cover, and the airy, clean, canvas chamber was 

Washing Diamond Gravel by Machinery at Gong Gong, 1880. 

much pleasanter than the ordinary farmer's sleeping room, as 
many of the prospectors remarked from experience. Even when 
the campers were obliged, for lack of tents, to sleep in their 
wagons, the big arched wagon did not suffer by comparison with 
any Boer's hut on the veld. The tents were pitched, sometimes 
under the cover of the larger trees lining the river bank, and 
sometimes on sheltered slopes, but the mass at Klip-drift were 
bare to the sun, and exposed to the blast of every storm that 
tore through the valley. 

Often these storms were terrific, opening with the rising of a 


yellow streak above the horizon, and the rapid spreading over 
the blue sky dome of rolling masses of heavy, lurid clouds. 

Lightning at Kimberley. 

Then from the coppery bosom of this pall there came such blaz- 
ing streams of lightning in sheets and contorted shafts, such 
rending explosions of thunder peals, that the awful flare and 
crash would shake the nerves of hardened men. With this 

Day View, Same Scene. 

appalling discharge there poured from the clouds torrents of 
rain, or a volley of huge hailstones rattling on the canvas roofs 


and driving man and beast to the nearest shelter. 1 As a safe- 
guard from these electric bolts the miners commonly put iron 
lightning rods alongside of their tent poles and insulated them 
with the necks of glass bottles, but the insecurity of this shield 
was evident in the occasional shattering of a tent and the killing 
or maiming of its occupants. 2 

Except for these storms the climate of the Vaal valley was 
generally agreeable. The winter days were particularly pleasant, 
for the sun soon warmed the air even when the nights were so 


cold that ice formed on the face of water-troughs. In midsum- 
mer the days were often exceedingly hot, the mercury rising as 
high as 100 Fah. in the shade; but the dry air was not nearly 
as enervating as the humid atmosphere of summer days in 
Europe or America, and the lightly clothed miners, avoiding the 
midday glare, suffered little. There was a notable exemption 
from sickness throughout the year, except for diarrhcea and 
dysentery, and fever contracted in summer chiefly from the reck- 
less use of unboiled and unfiltered river water. 3 

Plain food of some kind was plentiful and cheap, especially 
maize meal, commonly called mealie meal, and mutton and game 
were brought into the camp from the neighboring Transvaal and 
Free State farming and pasture lands. There were many wild 
fowls, too, that flocked to the valley of the Vaal, and several 
kinds of food fish abounded in the river, especially one resem- 
bling the voracious English barbel, or the catfish of America, and 
the one which the miners called " yellow fish." The chief lack 
in the food supply was cheap and wholesome vegetables for 
the dearth of these and the excess of meat caused a mild form of 
scurvy to appear in the camp. Fuel for cooking was readily cut 
from the trees along the river bank or from the thickets in the 
ravines. 4 

When the choice locations on the Klip-drift bank were taken, 
the influx, continuously moving to the new Diamond Fields from 
the coast, spread up and down the river, and little camps sprang 

1 The Diamond News, Klip-drift, Nov. 4, 1871. 3 Ibid. 

2 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. * Ibid. 


up at Gong Gong, Union Kopje, Delport's Hope, Forlorn Hope, 
Niekerk's Rush, Blue Jacket, Waldek's Plant, Larkin's Flat, 
and other placer diggings, extending from Hebron twenty miles 
northeast of Klip-drift to Sefonell's, sixty miles west. 1 It has 
been estimated that ten thousand diggers, white and black, were 
stretched along the river in this string of camps, and in roving 
parties of prospectors. 2 Any possible reckoning of the extent 
of a rush of thousands, which nobody could measure exactly or 
tried to measure, was of course a rough guess, but it seems prob- 
able that this guess was not very far from the fact. Such an 
influx of restless adventurers, pouring along a river line in a 

thinly peopled territory in the heart 
of South Africa, as heedless as a 
locust swarm of any questions of 
state sovereignty, or native tribal 
reservations, or mineral right titles, 
was certain to raise a rumpus, if 
any official authority in South Africa 
undertook to drive them away, or 
exact heavy license fees, or even to 
hold them down under strict laws 

The Largest River Diamond ever found i r j T>L \ 

in south Africa. Weight, 33 o| Car- rigorously enforced. The Austra- 

ats; Value, 3,500; Full Size. j ian go j d falfe fad furnished SOmC 

highly significant object lessons enforcing this certainty, but the 
little Boer Republics were not disposed to learn any lesson 
from the experience of English Colonies. 

The South African Republic claimed the diamond placer bor- 
der north and west of the Vaal as part of its territory, but it was 
content, at first, with the bare assumption that the diggers on 
the northern and western bank were within the confines of its 
domain, without caring to assert its right of control by any 
marked interference with the free proceedings of the diggers. 
It did not regard the upturning of gravel on its border line as 
any menace of serious intrusion within its territory, and the 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 

2 " South African Diamond Fields," Morton, 1877. 


neighboring Boer farmers were generally well pleased with the 
opening of ready markets for their produce. Representatives 
of the Republic were recognized as officers of the law at Hebron, 
but there was little attempt to impress any recognition of its 
authority on the camps farther down the Vaal. 1 

So the miners at Klip-drift went on digging and scraping the 
gravel, under their own simple regulations, month after month, 
until their busy camp burst suddenly into an uproar, when the 
news came in that President Pretorius and the Executive Coun- 
cil of the Transvaal Republic had granted to a firm of three privi- 
leged persons the exclusive right to search for diamonds in the 
territory of the Republic for a term of twenty years from June 22, 
1870, subject to a royalty of six per cent upon the value of all 
diamonds discovered.' 2 There were some old Australian placer 
miners on the Vaal River Diamond Fields, and they doubtless 
grinned at the thought of the reception that such a proclamation 
would have met with at Bendigo and Ballarat; but it was not 
necessary for an adventurer to have had a rearing on any gold 
placer field to fire his spirit to revolt against an edict of dispos- 
session and monopoly. It is idle to debate the question of the 
technical legal right of the administration of the South African 
Republic to make this grant. This may be conceded without 
affecting the countering facts of its gross partiality, inexpediency, 
and practical futility. The whole regular army of the United 
States would have been too small to enforce any such disposition of 
its mineral lands after they had been occupied without protest for 
more than six months by squatting placer miners, and bare com- 
mon sense would have sufficed to inform the administration of 
the little South African Republic that it could not give effect to 
its paper monopoly without a succession of fights that would add 
another " Blood River " to the face of South Africa. 

The instant effect of the grant was a universal uprising and 
mass meeting of the Klip-drift camp, and the declaration of the 
foundation of another free and independent Republic on the Vaal, 

1 " Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 

2 "South Africa," George McCall Theal, 1888-1893. 


of which Stafford Parker, one of the leading adventurers, was 
chosen president. 1 This was, on its face, a proceeding that 
smacked of opera bouffe, but, like Janus, it had another face. 
It was a flaunt of determination to cut off every shred of political 
connection with the South African Republic, and hold possession 
of a slice of rich mining land with a Colony which, at some future 
time, if not immediately, Great Britain might be disposed to 
welcome and incorporate with her imperial cluster on the coast. 
If this hope was not openly avowed at first, it undoubtedly ex- 
isted in the minds of many of the diggers, and no time was lost 
in communicating the situation to her Majesty's High Com- 
missioner at the Cape, Lieutenant General Hay. 

It is, however, unlikely that there was any confident expecta- 
tion of the endurance of the new Republic founded on a gravel 
bank whose precious contents were fast fleeting, but the organi- 
zation was set up as a handy resort, on the spur of the moment, 
to make an imposing show of resistance to the authority of the 
South African Republic, and with the idea of shunning the pen- 
alty of forcibly contesting the execution of the monopoly grant 
within a recognized district of its domain. Whatever legal 
unsoundness there may have been in the construction of the 
Klip-drift Republic, and in the notions of its framers, the shaky 
ship of state served its main purpose. The administration of 
the Transvaal Republic realized their grave blunder too late, 
and being humane and peace-loving men, refrained from any 
attempt to maintain their grant or their contested authority by 
force of arms. But they complained earnestly to the British 
Colonial authorities of the intrusion and illegal occupation and 
insubordination of the squatting adventurers on the Vaal. 

Meanwhile the diamond diggers did not concern themselves 
with the remote vexation of the Boer President and Council, but 
kept on ransacking the gravel. Early in the year there had 
been some straggling prospecting on the Pniel bank opposite 
Klip-drift, but the first continuous work on a south bank placer 

1 " South Africa," George McCall Theal, 1888-1893. "Among the 
Diamonds," 18701871. 


was begun in June by a party from the Klip-drift camp. 1 Their 
undertaking was an unwelcome intrusion on land claimed by the 
Pniel Mission, and the diggers were warned of their trespassing 
by the clergyman in charge. The Mission Station was several 
miles from the diamond placer, and the diggers ignored the 
notice, as they were not interfering apparently with the mission 
work by washing river bank gravel. The placer ground proved 
so rich that the diggers flocked to it rapidly, and the Berlin 
Society which maintained the missions at Pniel and Hebron 
was soon glad to obtain the license fee which it was generally 
able to secure from the diggers on the Pniel field. The pre- 
ferred locations on the Pniel bank were along a stretch in the 
middle of the rising ground, a few yards from the water's edge. 
In this tract diamonds were strewn so continuously as to suggest 
the existence of a flow or stream of them, in the red drift gravel 
between the boulders, to the eye of more than one observer. 
This strip was soon honeycombed with shallow pits reaching 
bedrock about twenty-five feet below the surface. 2 

The flow of prospectors continued to spread until the Pniel 
camp, in a few months, rivalled Klip-drift in size, and the two 
contained a population of four or five thousand people. Small 
stone, brick, and iron buildings for stores and other business 
uses were quickly put up in rows along a main street in the 
heart of Klip-drift camp, which bore the name of Campbell 
Street, and a few others of the same durable materials rose from 
other spots in the fields, but most of the miners continued to 
live in their canvas tents, or in reed huts plastered with clay. 
The stone for building was readily obtained from neighboring 
hillsides, and was neatly cut and laid, so that Campbell Street 
soon compared favorably with any country town street in South 
Africa. Butchers, bakers, and grocers opened shops ; restau- 
rants offered good, plainly cooked food at charges so moderate 
that it was reckoned that a man could be well fed at a cost of 
is. 6d. a day; a tavern and lodging-house, dignified by the name 
of hotel, accommodated travellers and regular boarders; diamond 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 2 Ibid. 


brokers sat ready to judge and buy rough diamonds for export ; 
a music hall had a rude vaudeville show every week-day night ; 
members of the Masonic fraternity established a lodge; and a 
little brick church welcomed all comers to its Sunday services. 1 
Similar buildings were put up less regularly in the Pniel 
camp too, and both sides of 
the river showed the like med- 
ley of iron, brick, stone, light 
wood, and canvas stores and 
dwellings. The first mining- 
town newspaper in South Africa, 

Views of Klip-drift. 

the Diamond News, was started at 
Pniel, a little four-page sheet 
that was chiefly filled with adver- 
tisements of local tradesmen on 
both sides of the river, and the local news and stir of the river 
diggings. Rowboats of an established ferry made regular trips 
across the river from one camp ground to the other, charging a 
passenger sixpence for crossing. So there was easy communi- 
cation, and the two camps were one in their common appearance, 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. ft The Diamond Diggings of South 
Africa," Payton, 1872. 


work and sympathy, though the Pniel camp did not pretend to 
the dignity of an independent Republic, but submitted meekly 
to the payment of license fees to the Berlin Mission Society and 
to the assertion of the sovereignty of the Orange Free State, 
represented by a local magistrate, with the adjuncts of a canvas 
jail, whipping-posts, and stocks. 1 

Oddly enough, in view of the shallow gravel bed which was 
the sole support of these camps, the approach of collapse was 
not clearly foreseen. An observer of more than ordinary intel- 
ligence visited the camp at the close of the year 1870, and noted 
the exhaustion of the rich ridge gravel back of Campbell Street, 
where more than two thousand diggers were at work a few 
months before. Yet, while remarking the drift of prospectors 
to outlying placers, he wrote, " Notwithstanding this, Klip-drift 
flourishes, and together with Pniel will no doubt always continue 
to be a head centre of the diamond-digging community." For 
this sanguine view there was some justification in the general 
ignorance of the actual extent of the diamond beds in the alluvial 
deposit, and in the common declaration of a purpose to persist 
in searching for diamonds, even by those whose hard luck 
forced them to abandon the fields for a time. " Hope's blest 
dominion never ends " to the most unfortunate laborer. This 
visitor did not meet one of the many leaving the ground with 
empty pockets who did not protest his resolution to return to 
the diggings in the following March or April after the heat and 
storms of the summer season on the Vaal were past. 2 Fortu- 
nately for these luckless adventurers, there was a new and phe- 
nomenal development of other Diamond Fields, whose output 
soon dwarfed all the returns from the shallow River Diggings. 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. "South Africa," George McCall 
Theal, 1888-1893. 

2 " Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 



HERE was a pretty green valley near the Free 
State settlement of Fauresmith, hardly a mile 
in width, but stretching for several miles to the 
northeast through ridges of volcanic rock kopjes. 
Fauresmith lay in the track of the stream flow- 
ing from the coast ports to the diamond-bearing 
valley of the Vaal, but there was no thought of a probable dia- 
mond field on the plateau so far from a river bed. So for 
months the adventurers passed on without pausing, except for 
a night's camp, on their way to the Vaal. A Boer settler, Cor- 
nells Johannes Vis t ser, had taken up a considerable part of the 
neighboring valley in his farm of Jagersfontein, where his house 
stood in the midst of a gay, blooming garden. He had died 
before the discovery of diamonds, but his farm was held by his 
widow, Jacoba Magdalena Cecilia Visser, and worked by an over- 
seer in charge. 

A little stream, flowing from the hills, ran through the valley 
in the rainy season, though for the greater part of the year its 
track was only marked by a spruit or dry water-course. De 
Klerk, the overseer, noticed that many small garnets mixed with 
pebbles of agate were sprinkled along the dry bed of this spruit, 
and learned that the diggers on the Vaal believed garnets to be 
an indication of the presence of diamonds. So he began pros- 
pecting one day in August, 1870, on the line of the spruit, awk- 
wardly sifting the dry gravel and sand in a common wire sieve. 
At the depth of six feet he found a fine diamond of fifty carats, 
and the news of his discovery was soon widely spread throughout 
the Free State. 1 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 


His neighbors flocked first to the farm, and the thrifty widow 
Visser was pleased to welcome them, and permitted them to dig 
in her spruit, on allotted patches of twenty feet square, for which 
each paid her a license fee of 1 a month. The phlegmatic 
Boers were not wildly excited by the prospect of fortune hid in 
the spruit, but diamond hunting was an agreeable diversion from 
dull farming, and they came with their wives and children in their 
big canvas-covered wagons, and spread out through the green val- 
ley like country folk at a picnic. The children delighted in their 
search for pretty pebbles and soon filled their pockets with gar- 
nets and agates ; but the digging in the spruit was often so labo- 
rious that the farmers were content to squat on the ground and 
puff their long pipes while their black servants did the digging 
and rock heaving. When natives were not engaged as diggers, 
the farmers and their sons indolently shovelled out the gravel in 
heaps to be sorted by their wives and children. 

Underneath the red surface soil filled with pebbles, there was 
a layer of calcareous clay, varying in thickness from a few feet to 
twelve or more, covering drifts and pockets of gravel thickly 
sprinkled with heavy boulders of greenstone and basalt. It was 
necessary to pry up and tug out these boulders in order to reach 
the underlying gravel, and this task was no child's play. Then the 
gravel was pitched out of the holes, rudely sorted by dry sifting 
in sieves, and picked over by hand in search of the precious 
stones. In some pockets there was quite a sprinkling of diamonds, 
garnets and peridot, mixed with coarse gravel, and the returns far 
exceeded the license charge ; but the diamond deposit was scat- 
tered as irregularly as that of the Vaal River field, and many of the 
workers toiled for weeks on their claims without finding anything 
more precious than the jawbones and teeth of a hyena or jackal. 1 

Attention had hardly been called to the diggings at Jagers- 
fontein when a still more remarkable discovery was made in the 
month of September, 1870, at Dutoitspan, 2 on the farm of Dorst- 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 

2 The original and correct form of this name was " Du Toit's Pan," or the 
pan or pond of du Toit, the name of the man who first owned the farm. Both Du 
Toit's Pan and Dutoitspan are now used. 


fontein, about twenty miles southeast of Pniel and Klip-drift on 
the Vaal. Du Toit's pan was one of the curious natural land 
basins before described, receiving the wash of the surrounding 
ridges, and holding pools of water during the rainy season and 
sometimes during the year. The title to the farm Dorstfontein 
was granted by the Free State Government to Abraham Pauls du 
Toit on the 4th of April, 1860. Du Toit sold the farm to 
Adriaan J. van Wyk, who had built a little house near the side 
of the " pan," where he was living indifferent to the rush of 
prospectors to the Vaal River, until he was suddenly surprised 
by the finding of diamonds a short distance from his house. 

When the news of this discovery spread, coming, as it did, so 
close upon the revelation at Jagersfontein, there was an instant 
rush of prospectors from the Vaal to the new field, swelled by 
the neighboring farmers and the influx still flowing from the 
coast towns. Van Wyk demanded, at first, a royalty of one- 
fourth of the value of all diamonds found on his farm, from 
every prospector seeking to explore the new field ; but he soon 
concluded to issue licenses at a charge of js. 6d. monthly for 
every allotted claim of thirty feet square. The Orange Free 
State government was aroused to assert its claim of sovereignty 
by the spread of the discoveries, and attempted to restrict the 
allotment of the claims on the farm land, for the benefit of its 
own citizens, by an ordinance prohibiting the issuance of licenses 
to any one except a Free State burgher or farmer ; but this 
requirement was easily evaded at Jagersfontein and Dutoitspan 
by the transfer of licenses granted to Free State citizens. Fur- 
thermore, the spread of the news of the discovery and the result- 
ant rush to the Diamond Fields was soon beyond any possible 
restriction imposed by this little Republic. 1 Van Wyk was pre- 
vailed upon without much difficulty to sell his farm to the 
predecessors of the London and South African Exploration 
Company for ^2600, a fortune far surpassing any glitter of 
pebbles in the ground, in the view of this simple farmer. 

Side by side with the Dorstfontein farm lay the farm of Bult- 
1 "South Africa," Theal, 1888-1893. 


fontein, divided by a public roadway. The spread of prospect- 
ing soon passed naturally across the road to Bultfontein and to 
other neighboring farms. Bultfontein was owned by a poor 
Boer, Cornelis Hendrik du Plooy, and before the discovery at 
Dutoitspan a thousand pounds would have been thought a 
grossly extravagant price to pay for the whole farm and its live 
stock. But the luck of van Wyk put a new face on the scrubby 
farm lands near the Vaal, and an eager Free State speculator, 
Thomas Lynch, did not wait over Sunday to buy Bultfontein, 
but amazed the owner by driving out to his farm on the Lord's 
Day, November 14, 1869, an d offering ^2000 for his land. Du 
Plooy accepted the offer on the spot, for such a sum in cash was 
vastly bigger in his eyes than any possible return from farming 
or picking up " blink klippe." It is said that diamonds had 
been found on the farm previous to this sale, but Du Plooy was 
not aware of any actual discovery on his land, and preferred cash 
in hand to any gambling chances. The story is told that Bult- 
fontein mine was discovered by the finding of a diamond in the 
mortar used by du Plooy to plaster his house and the subsequent 
search for diamonds in the pit from which the sand had been 
taken. It is true that diamonds were found as reported, but it 
was some time after the mine had been rushed. 1 

On the same day that du Plooy sold his farm to Lynch, 
he was beset by Leopold Lilienfeld and others, who advised 
him that the sale was illegal, being made on a Sunday, and 
eventually Lilienfeld gave du Plooy an indemnity against all 
damages if he would refuse to conclude the sale to Lynch. 
On November 16, 1869, the sale of the farm was concluded 
between du Plooy and Leopold Lilienfeld, Louis Hond and 
Henry Barlow Webb for the sum of 1000. Hond sold his 
one-third interest to Webb, who, with Lilienfeld, Edgar Eager 
Hurley, and others, formed the " Hopetown Company." 

Lynch brought action against du Plooy for ^ 10,000 damages, 
and obtained a judgment for ^500 and costs on August 19, 1872. 
In spite of his indemnity du Plooy was then obliged to sue 
i" Among the Diamonds," John Noble, 1870-1871. 


Lilienfeld and his associates, and obtained judgment for 760 
19-f. id. and costs, February 12, 1893. In 1876, when the Land 
Commission heard this case, the London and South African Ex- 
ploration Company had been formed, and the title to the farm 
was granted to that company, as successors of the " Hopetown 

Bultfontein was linked to Dorstfontein by the acquisition of 
both farms by one holder, and transferred in a subsequent sale to 
investors associated as the London and South African Explora- 
tion Company. The farm of Vooruitzigt, which lay bordering 
on Dorstfontein and Bultfontein to the north, was bought for 
^6000 shortly after by other speculative investors, -the firm of 
Messrs. Dunell, Ebden & Co., of Port Elizabeth. 

The correct record of these farms is as follows : 

Bultfontein was originally granted by the British Govern- 
ment (then occupying the Free State under the name of " The 
Orange River Sovereignty") to J. F. Otto, December 16, 1848, 
under Warden certificate. 

Dorstfontein was granted by the Free State Government to 
Abraham Pauls du Toit on the 4th of April, 1860. 

Alexandersfontein was granted by the Free State Govern- 
ment to Johannes Cornelis Coetzee on the jd of December, 1862. 
That portion cut off by the Free State boundary from Griqua- 
land West was granted to Philip Rudolph Nel and Willem 
Gabriel Nel on the i6th of January, 1880. 

Vooruitzigt was originally a portion of Bultfontein, and was 
sold to D. A. and J. N. de Beer on the i8th of April, 1860. 

At the time of these purchases the price paid for any ground 
outside of a short stretch on the Dorstfontein farm was wholly 
speculative. There had been no considerable discovery of dia- 
monds except along the top of a sloping ridge or long kopje 
lying north, at a distance of about a third of a mile, from du 
Toit's pan. The total area of the three farms was about fifty- 
eight and a half (58^) square miles. 1 The comparative ease of 

1 The total area of the farms, Dorstfontein (6579 acres), Bultfontein (14,457 
acres), and Vooruitzigt (16,405 acres), is 37,441 acres, equal to 58^ square miles. 






Kimberley, 1872. 

working in the new fields was a pleasant surprise to the River 
Diggers, who had been obliged to sink pits in heavy gravel thick 
set with boulders. Now they found diamonds sprinkled through 
a light surface soil of decomposed yellow ground, and many 
stones were so thinly covered with earth that some little brilliant 
crystals were washed free from sand after every heavy rain, and 
lay shining on the ground, to be picked up by sharp-eyed dia- 
mond seekers. 1 The mines were not covered with basalt, but in 
many cases with a layer of rather hard limestone or calcareous 
tufa similar to that which covers a large part of the surface of 
the country in this neighborhood, which has been metamorphosed 
by the evaporation of water charged with carbonate of lime. 

The first swarm of prospectors on the ground supposed that 
the diamonds of Dutoitspan were simply a sprinkling strewn 
through a sand wash like the river-shore deposit. When their 
shovels struck an underlying stratum of limestone with streaks 
of greenish shale, at a depth of two feet or less, they presumed 
that this corresponded to the known bedrock of the placers 
along the Vaal, and had no thought that it was a casing for any 
precious stones. So they simply dug through the soil and 
shovelled the' ground into heaps to be sifted dry with common 
wire sieves of coarse and fine mesh. There were no boulders 
in this soil and few large stones, so that their claims could be 
rapidly worked. 2 

The ground contained a plentiful sprinkling of small yellow- 
ish diamonds and some larger stones, but the deposit was so 
shallow that it soon was exhausted. In the course of a week or 
two one dieeer with the help of a sorter shovelled and sifted all 


the ground of his claim, thirty feet square, and moved to another, 
or rambled off prospecting over the farm lands. 8 There seemed 

1 " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 

2 Ibid. * Ibid. 


no prospect to him that the Dutoitspan ridge still held anything 
to reward the labor of penetrating a rock bed. But after many 
prospectors had ransacked the soil of their claims and abandoned 
them, one of the workers on the ridge or elevated land had the 
fancy to see what might possibly lie under the stratum of lime- 
stone, and determined to cut a few feet, at least, through the rock. 
He found that the limestone soon grew so soft and rotten that 
it could be split easily by the stroke of a pick and the lumps 
crushed by the blow of a shovel. This rotten rock fused soon 
with a curious decomposed breccia of a yellowish color, and 
the sifting of this ground showed, to his amazed eyes, the 
presence of diamonds sparkling on his sieve or on the sorting 
table. 1 

With the spreading of this discovery there came another 
rush of diggers to the ridge that soon covered every patch of 
unoccupied ground on its slopes. Foot after foot the mining 
pits sunk through the soft cement, which was often so decom- 
posed that jhe point of a pick pierced it like a mass of dried 
mud. Instead of decreasing in number, the quantity of gems 
in a claim often increased with the deepening of the pits, and 
the proportion of large rough diamonds was far greater below 
the depth of a fathom than in the surface soil or the crust of the 
limestone stratum. Payton says that fragments of volcanic 
rocks green trap and basalt chiefly were scattered through 
the limestone and yellow ground ; but there were very few large 
boulders, and the work of mining was far less laborious than 
any pit-driving in the river bank at Klip-drift and Pniel. 2 

Some cut adits at varying angles in the slope of the ridge, 
and carried out their ground in buckets or wheelbarrows. This 
method of mining shunned the toil of lifting heavy buckets out 
of the pits, but it was dangerous from the frequent ground 
slides and rock falls, and caused many a wrangle when adit lines 
crossed or pits met the tunnels. Others opened their claims 
by cutting a series of descending stages, diminishing in size step 
by step, so that the pit bottom was reached by passing down a 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 2 Ibid. 


rude rock staircase. This was a rapid and convenient mode of 
opening ground at the start, but where claims were only thirty 
feet square, it was clear that no single claim-holder could go far 
down in this way without reaching a point where the bottom 
step of his staircase would cover the floor of his claim. For this 
reason many preferred to mine more slowly in small perpen- 
dicular shafts, in whose side little niches, familiarly known as toe 
holes, were cut, so that agile men could clamber up and down. 
Or the shaft bottom was reached by means of a knotted rope or 
riem of rawhide, dangling into the pit from a post set in the 
ground near the mouth of the shaft. When a bucket was filled 
with broken rock by a digger working on a pit floor, his mate 
hauled up the load by winding a rope stretching from the handle 
over a rude windlass, or by sheer lifting. When only one 
digger was holding a claim, he was obliged to clamber out of 
his pit and haul up his bucket whenever he filled it. 

To extract the diamonds the broken rock was pulverized 
by beating with shovels and then screened in a common 
round sieve of coarse mesh, to separate the larger stones 
that were worthless. After this screening the ground passing 
through the coarse wire mesh was carefully sifted, a second time, 
in a rocking sieve of fine, strong wire. This sieve was set in 
an oblong frame, usually about three feet long and two broad, 
with handles at one end and deep notches at the other, gripping 
a narrow strip of rawhide stretched between two upright posts 
called sieve props. When this rocker was swung rapidly, all 
the sand and dust fell through the wire mesh, leaving a concen- 
trate of fine chips and little pebbles of limestone, talc, basalt, and 
trap, carrying a sprinkling of garnets, peridot, and an occasional 
diamond crystal. This concentrate was then taken to a sorting 
table and scraped over in the same way as the river gravel. 1 

Diamond winning on the upland was easier, at first, than 
working the river placers ; but there was one common annoy- 
ance which was much more irritating on the new fields than at 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. "Among the 
Diamonds," 1870-1871. 


the river diggings. Hot winds blew the red dust from the sur- 
rounding veld in clouds over the workers, and these dust blasts 
were mixed with the powdered white limestone and pulverized 
cement of the ridge, shaken through the sieves and blown in 
the faces of the miners, inflaming their eyes, clogging their 
noses, and even coating their skin through their clothes. So 
fine was this powder and so sharply blown that it penetrated 
even hunting-case watches, and few watches could be kept run- 
ning after a month at the diggings of Dutoitspan. 1 

But this was comparatively a trivial concern to ardent dia- 
mond seekers, winning the precious stones so frequently. 
Every day swelled the rush of adventurers to the pan, bargain- 
ing for halves, quarters, and even eighths of a claim on the 
ridge, and roaming over every foot of ground of Dorstfontein 
and the neighboring farms of Bultfontein, Vooruitzigt, and Alex- 
andersfontein in search of new diamond beds. Oddly enough, 
as the prospectors thought, no spot on the whole farm of Dorst- 
fontein rewarded their search outside of the ridge near the pan, 
and for months no better luck attended the hunting for dia- 
monds over the neighboring farms. But where one party of 
the ardent seekers failed to find diamonds, another followed on 
its track and scoured the face of the farms with shovels and 
sieves, with a persistence that was certain to be rewarded, in 
time, if any diamond surface beds existed outside of the ridge 
at Dutoitspan. In the frequent sinking of pits, also, in the 
basins, for water, there was the further chance of piercing some 
hidden bed of diamonds, for the search for springs was hardly 
less keen than the quest for precious stones. 

So, early in i8yi, 2 diamonds were unearthed in the surface 
soil close to the farmhouse of Bultfontein. This discovery was 
followed in the first days of May by the discovery of diamonds 
on de Beer's farm, Vooruitzigt, about two miles from Dutoits- 
pan. 3 Two months later a second diamond bed was uncov- 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Pay ton, 1872. 2 Ibid. 
3 Ibid. [These dates differ somewhat from those given by Theal and others. 
Payton was on the ground in July, 1871, and his account should be most accurate.] 

bne aisaS sQ stfi rbiriw n<- 


.-, -ed Just from the sur- 

. and these dust blasts 

..aiesrone and pulverized 

the sieves and blown in 

-heir eyes, clogging their 

nrouch their clothes. So 

, Viown that it penetrated 

. hes could be kept run- 

roirspan. 1 

/ to ardent dia- 

o! es so frequently. 

-> the pan, bargain- 

a claim on the 

f Dorstfontein 

>i.:f, and Alex- 

> . ily enough, 

The Homestead of^he Farm Vooruitzigt on which are De Beers and 
Kimberley Mines. 

\ for dia- 

party of 

r :i: j,_ ; followed on 

i)f riv: ;t!'i shovels and 

\v:is ccrra . be rewarded, in 

l.;-ii> exists i viutsicle of the ridge 

.iuern. si^kiirj- of [v,ts, also, in the 

-lie further cr.aix^ ' v'^rting some 

for ' seitu'h f--; js was hardly 

.liamot-d- werv unc in the surface 

' --..- r,| U'i':;o.':ci i. i : -i v discovery was 

,, M:t\ bv :iv. cry of diamonds 

f t v .). "!, :ibr.'.! ' cules from Dutoits- 

.np.;l .; 4 i t!Vit.!:d bed was uncov- 

,.n. iH-z. - Ibid. 

, i; ' f . . ,.- .> . ...\. . t>v Theal and others, 

j-i j; : : -..iin -\\ :. : J He iiv/,t accurate.] 

OF -h'5 





ered on the same farm, lying on a gently sloping kopje, at a 
distance from the first location roughly reckoned at a mile. 
This kopje had been searched twice by prospectors, it is said, 
without success, and one report says that the deposit was finally 
discovered through the sinking of a well on the ground. 1 The 
diggers drove their well down seventy-six feet without finding 
water, but at this depth one was amazed to see a diamond of 
eighty-seven carats sparkling on the wall of his dry pit. 

So many conflicting state- 
ments have been made as to 
the discovery of the first dia- 
mond at this location, called 
New Rush or Colesberg Kopje, 
and afterward famous as Kim- 
berley Mine, that I have been 
perplexed to decide to which 
story the most credence should 
be given. The difficulty in ob- 
taining trustworthy data arises 
from the fact that few of the 
original diggers are still alive, 
and that most of those who 
are still living are scattered to 
all parts of the world. More- 
over one cannot always rely 
upon the accuracy of the mem- 
ory of the old diggers now living upon the Fields as to dates 
and details after the lapse of more than thirty years. After 
diligent sifting of all reports and records, however, the following 
conclusion may be said to be well determined. 

Through the courtesy of Mrs. Grimmer, the widow of Dr. 
Grimmer, a practising physician at Colesberg when the Diamond 
Fields were discovered, I was enabled to meet Mrs. Raw- 
storne, the mother of Fleetwood Rawstorne, then (1900) living 
at Cape Town. She is a fine-looking old lady, as her portrait 
1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Pay ton, 1872. 

Mrs. Rawstorne. 


shows, well preserved after a long and eventful life in South 
Africa. She was eighty-two years old at the time of our meeting. 
Her memory took her back to the days of the discovery, and 
she related the incidents of the Fields as clearly as if they had 
happened but yesterday. The photograph, here reproduced, of 
the discoverer of Kimberley mine and his party was taken a few 
days after the discovery of diamonds on Colesberg Kopje. 
Fleetwood Rawstorne stands in the middle of the group (page 
175), in the shade of a fine specimen of the camelthorn trees 

which grew upon the mine. They 
had only begun to dig prospect- 
ing holes. The cut on page 176 
shows the primitive method of 
working the diamond - bearing 
ground. I had the story of the 
discovery also from Mr. T. B. 
Kisch, who states that he is the 
only one now living of the first 
four locators. 

Fleetwood Rawstorne, T. B. 
Kisch, and two other diggers 
were prospecting on this kopje 
during the month of July, 1871. 
Some of the party thought they 
saw "indications" of diamond 
deposits, and Rawstorne sent his 
Kafir servant to prospect thor- 
oughly the spot in view. The Kafir returned to his master with 
a diamond of about two carats weight. This discovery was made 
known at once to the other members of the party, and all went 
immediately to the spot and marked and pegged off" their claims ; 
Rawstorne pegging three, two as a reward for discovery and one 
as a digger. After the claims had been pegged off Rawstorne 
went to the authorities and reported his discovery. On the 
following day the government surveyor was sent to mark off the 
claims and allot them according to the existing law or custom. 

Mr. 'I'. B. Kisch. (The only one now living 
of the first party who located claims on 
Kimberley Mine.) 


Kimberley Mine just after the Discovery, July, 1871- 

The name of Colesberg Kopje was given to the hillock 
because the lucky diggers, headed by Rawstorne, came to 
the field from the town of Colesberg, near the Orange River. 
The instant flocking of people to the two Vooruitzigt farm 
diggings caused them to be roughly distinguished as " De Beers 
Rush" or " Old De Beers," and " De Beers New Rush," or the 
" Colesberg Kopje " - names which endured some months, until 
the " New Rush " was rechristened Kimberley in honor of the 
British secretary for the colonies. 

This inroad of squatting prospectors was greatly vexing at first 
to the owners of the diamond-bearing farms. It disturbed the 
use of the ground for stock-raising purposes, and if there were 
any diamonds on the land, the purchasing speculators wanted to 
hold the beds for their own exclusive development and profit. 
But it was soon evident that this design was impracticable. The 
swarm that covered the ground could not be held in check by 
any force at command of the owners, and stiffly refused to recog- 


nize any assertion of legal claims that took the form of monopoly 
titles. The first diggers on the Bultfontein farm were warned 


off by the owners for trespass. There was a momentary hesita- 
tion till the rush was swelled by numbers so large that the for- 
bidden ground was "jumped" in an hour, and diggers upturned 
the soil to the very door of the farmhouse. Then the owners 
called on the Orange Free State police for help, and the miners 
were driven away for some days ; but the certainty of another irre- 
sistible rush was so ominous that, toward the end of May (1871), 
the proprietors opened the field to all comers on payment of a 
license of ten shillings a month for each claim of thirty feet square. 1 
In the grants of farms by the Dutch East India Company 
there had been no reservation of mineral rights, but from the 
time of the cession to Great Britain, MacNab says the grant of 
lands did not carry a title to " precious stones, gold, and silver," 
which were explicitly excluded, and in 1860 it was enacted in 

Kimberley Mine just after the Discovery, July, 1871. 

1 " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 
Africa," Theal, 1888-1893. 




Parliament that no lands containing valuable minerals should 
be considered waste lands of the crown for purposes of sale. 
This did not apply to Griqualand West, as there was no min- 
eral or precious stones act or ordinance in force in this terri- 
tory until Ordinance No. 3 of 1871, of the Orange Free State 
Government. 1 Whether there were mineral reservations in the 
diamond-bearing-farm deeds was 
not questioned by the inrush- 
ing diggers. They would not 
suffer exclusion without a fight, 
but they were willing to pay small 
license charges to the farm own- 
ers for the privilege of working 
allotted claims. The size of these 
claims was fixed by agreement 
with representative " Diggers' 
Committees," chosen by the pros- 
pectors in mass meeting, and these 
committees determined also the 
simple mining regulations and 
camp rules. One committee had 
charge of the Dutoitspan and 
Bultfontein mining camps, and 
another directed the mining at 
De Beers and the Colesberg 
Kopje, pitching its official tent 
midway between these two dia- 
mond beds. 2 

Fleetwood Rawstorne. 

The Orange Free State claimed the new diamond fields as 
part of its territory, but its right of control was not vigorously 
asserted in practice. There was a rising issue from the time of 
the discovery at Dutoitspan touching the ownership of the 
district containing the diamond-bearing farms and the diggings 
on the line of the Vaal. The South African Republic claimed 

1 "On Veld and Farm," Frances MacNab, London, 1897. 

2 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Pay ton, 1872. 


the ground north and west of the river, as before noted, but the 
miners at Klip-drift had continued to maintain their rude Republic 
or independent camp, drifting into a condition verging on anar- 
chy, under the doubtful control of a factious " Executive Commit- 
tee," until December 13, 1871, when the camp gladly submitted 
to the authority of a provisional magistrate, appointed by 
Lieutenant General Hay, her Majesty's High Commissioner. 1 
This energetic official had his eyes widely open to the possible 
value and extent of the new diamond-bearing field, and was not 
only disposed to sustain the appeal of the river diggers against 
the monopoly grant of the Transvaal Republic, but wrote 
to President Brand, the head of the Orange Free State, in 
September, 1870, questioning the title of the Free State to the 
Dutoitspan fields and the river diggings at Pniel. 2 

At the time of the creation of the Orange Free State out 
of the domain included in the Orange River Sovereignty, there 
had been explicit recognition of reservations set apart for the 
Basutos, Koranas, and Griquas, native tribes dwelling within 
the limits of the Sovereignty. But there was an apparent lack 
of precision in the reservations or claims of the Koranas and 
Griquas especially, which was accounted of little consequence at 
the time, until the discovery of diamonds, on a tract otherwise 
not worth contesting, aroused rival claimants. The Berlin 
Mission Society claimed the diggings at Pniel on the strength of 
a deed of sale of part of the Korana reserve. Nicholas Waterboer 
and other Griqua chiefs, doubtless prompted by speculative agents, 
set up their claim to a considerable stretch of ground, covering 
Klip-drift and Pniel as well as the upper angle between the 
Orange and the Vaal, containing the diamond fields of Dutoits- 
pan and the surrounding farms. The Orange Free State did 
not dispute the right of the natives to hold such reservations as 
had been assigned to them by the British Government, but con- 
tended that the stretch of the native tribal claims was wholly 
unjustified, and that Pniel and Dutoitspan were clearly within 
the bounds of its domain.* 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 

2 "South Africa," Theal. 3 Ibid. 



Batlapin Chiefs and their Councillors. 

Bolitsitse Gasibone. 

A Batlapin Chief and his Councillors. 

Some of the Native Chiefs dealt with by Mr. Richard Southey, Lieutenant Governor of Griqualand 
West, during his Administration. 


Sir Henry Barkly succeeded Lieutenant General Hay early 
in 1871 as her Majesty's High Commissioner and Governor of 
Cape Colony, and was expressly instructed by Earl Kimberley, 
the British secretary for the colonies (January 24, 1871), not to 
countenance any annexation of territory outside of the uncon- 
tested limits of Cape Colony, which the Colony would be 
unable to govern and defend with its own unaided resources. 
But the new High Commissioner viewing the situation and 
the course of his predecessor, which he cordially approved 
replied to his instructions bluntly that the British Government 
" had already gone too far to sdmit of its ceasing to support the 
cause of either Waterboer or the diggers." He concluded an 
arrangement, accordingly, for the transfer to Great Britain of 
the claims of the native chiefs, subject to the ratification of the 
Home Government, and his representations secured the consent 
of the Ministry, in the following May, to the transfer, and to 
the assertion of British sovereignty over the disputed territory, 
pending the final decision of the special court of arbitration 
which had been convened by the agreement of the contesting 

The court had been opened, in the previous April (1871), 
in the village of Bloemfontein. After considering the evidence 

presented, the 
judges disagreed, 
and the disposi- 
tion of the terri- 
tory depended 
upon the award 
of the referee, 
Lieutenant Gov- 
ernor Keate, of 
Natal. This was 
not rendered un- 
til the 1 7th of October following, and it does not appear that 
the decision was hurried or improperly influenced. But it was 

1 "South Africa," Theal. 

The first Government House and Buildings of the Colony of 
Griqualand West. 


i General Hay early 

.ioner and Governor of 

' icted by Karl Kimberley, 

-, januurv 24, 1871), not to 

-irory outside of the uncon- 

hich the Colony would be 

its ',-VMI unaided resources. 

- vifu'iiu; the situation and 

h he Cordially approved 

the British Government 

; ceasing to support the 

lie concluded an 

to Great Britain of 

ratification of the 

jred the consent 

-ansfer, and to 


Born April 25th, 1808; Died 1901. 

*t contesting 

'pnl (1871), 
-ne evidence 
evented, the 
f-s disagreed, 
.'he disposi- 
;>t the terri- 
:pon the award 
the referee, 
1 .ieutenant Gov- 
^^ ernor Keate, of 
Natal. This was 
not rendered un- 
s not appear that 
nceJ, But it was 



warmly denounced as partial in sweeping aside the claims of the 
Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic, and confirming 
the alleged title of Waterboer and other native chiefs to a tract 
covering 17,800 square miles, and including the Dutoitspan, 
Bultfontein, De Beers, and Kimberley diamond mines, as well as 

Sir Richard Southey's Residence, Kimberley. 

the diggings along the Vaal. Four days after this award had 
been made, Sir Henry Barldy proclaimed the grant to the native 
chiefs a part of the British dominions, as the Crown Colony of 
Griqualand West, which was placed under the administration 
of a Lieutenant Governor, Mr. Richard Southey. 1 Thus the 
control of the Diamond Fields was finally determined, and it is 
impossible to doubt that this settlement was greatly contributory 
to the extraordinary advance of diamond mining in these fields, 
as well as to the uplifting and development of the Colonies, and 
to the push of civilization into the heart of the dark continent. 
It has been contended that the award was unjust to both 
of the Boer Republics, and this contention has been supported by 
the citation of a court decision rendered several years later, and 
the allowance of ^90,000 to the Orange Free State by the Lon- 
don Convention of 1876, in compensation for losses sustained 
1 "South Africa," Theal. 


through the creation of Griqualand West. But it has been 
fairly pointed out by the leading historian of South Africa, 
Theal, an earnest supporter of the rights of the Orange Free 
State and her sister Republic, that the claims of both contest- 
ants were weakly presented at the Bloemfontein court, and that 
Lieutenant Governor Keate cannot be reproached justly for any 
conscious unfairness in deciding the case upon the evidence 
before him, in a manner unsatisfactory to the Republics on the 
line of the Vaal. 

There is, further, the practical view to present of the incor- 
poration of the Diamond Fields in Griqualand West, that this 
was the only feasible solution of the situation, at that time, 
which guaranteed to the irresistible rush of diamond seekers 
from the Cape and all parts of the world a government so 
strong that it could enforce its authority without recourse to 
arms and bloodshed. Klip-drift had already revolted at the first 
preposterous stretch of authority of the South African Repub- 
lic, and maintained its independence until it submitted docilely 
to the British High Commissioner. The seething influx on the 
upland Diamond Fields was clearly on the verge of rebellion 
against any Free State regulations restricting their right of 
entry or supporting any monopoly title. Great Britain, with 
all her array of Imperial power, would not have ventured to 
assert such claims as had been set up by both of the Boer 
Republics, and could not have enforced them without an army 
on the spot. As a matter of fact, she prudently suffered the 
miners to occupy the land without any attempt to maintain 
crown reservations of mineral rights, even after her supremacy 
was undisputed through the formation of the Crown Colony. 
The Boer Republics, on the other hand, would have continued 
to blunder, almost certainly, as they had been doing, if control 
of the Fields had been turned over to them nominally by the 
decision of the referee. 

It did not appear at that time, either, that there was any 
strong desire on the part of the authorities of these Republics 
to assume the cost and responsibility and prospect of collision 


which the supported assertion of control of the Diamond Fields 
would have involved. The founders of these states had sought 


only the plain homes of farmers and shepherds on the veld, 
under a government of their own choosing. Neither they nor 
their children were greatly stirred by the uncovering of dia- 
monds, or the prospect of finding more on their lands. They 
disliked the spreading rush to the Diamond Fields, even when 
it was presumed that their own mines were developing. The 
plain, stolid farming folk, stiffly set in their old-fashioned ways, 
had little in common with the sanguine adventurers, delighting 
in stirs and surprises and novelties. Baines tells a story of the 
mobbing of the first surveyor who tried to use a theodolite in 
the streets of Potchefstrom, instead of stepping off the distance 
in the good old way of the " veld-vlak-meester." He avers, 
too, that he was himself made " vogel vrie," " free as a bird for 
anybody to shoot at," for the crime of concealing a sextant 
about his person. 1 This may be a fanciful stretch of fact, but 
there is no doubt of the ingrained conservatism of the Boers. 
How could such a people sympathize with the impetuous and 
ardent spirits that rushed to the Diamond Fields, and what pros- 
pect was there of the docile submission of the one to the other ! 
It can scarcely be questioned, therefore, by a candid observer 
that the conclusion of Lieutenant Governor Keate was the best 
practical settlement, if not the most impartial and accurate. 

It was not to be expected, however, that this significant 
departure from the halting policy of former ministries, this for- 
ward step of Greater Britain into the heart of a region hitherto 
indifferently resigned to the migrating Boers, should be viewed 
with resignation by the embittered Republics whose claims were 
disallowed. Resentment ran so high in the Transvaal that 
President Pretorius was forced to resign. His place was filled 
by a clergyman, Thomas Francois Burgers, and, after the short 
sharp war for independence in 1 880-81, by Stephen J. Paul 
Kruger, a marcher with the Great Trek from the Cape to the 
Limpopo, a lion killer from boyhood as dauntless as David, 

1 " The Gold Regions of Southeastern Africa," Thomas Baines. 


a crafty politician and a religious exhorter, a Covenanter of the 
Covenanters, a Boer of the Boers, uncouth, unschooled, con- 
ceited, bigoted, grasping, bristling with suspicion and prejudice, 
tickled with gross flattery, but a man of iron nerve, intensely 
loyal to his people and their push for independence, self-contained, 
self-reliant, bold, wary, cunning, ambitious, dominating, fore- 
handed masking his plans, biding his time, resolute in action, 
and far-seeing in shaping the future of his Republic. In the in- 
clusion of the precious diamond-bearing province in Griqualand 
West, an inveterate antagonist of British Imperial extension was 
raised to power, whose keen forecast was almost able to over- 
balance the impulse of this great accession to the upbuilding of 
Greater Britain in South Africa. 1 On the coat of arms of the 
Transvaal Republic a lion lay crouching, ready to spring. From 
the day of Kruger's rise to head the Republic, the lion of the 
Transvaal has never shut his eyes nor feared to show his teeth. 

While this protracted controversy for the control of the 
Diamond Fields was dragging on, the rush to the diggings had 
been spreading and moving from the ports of Australia, India, 
and China ; from California, Canada, and the Eastern Atlantic 
states of the American Union from Great Britain and Ireland 
and the countries of Western and Central Europe ; from every 
region of the civilized world, at length, where men of restless 
and sanguine temper were living, who could command the price 
of the passage to diamond-bearing placers, unmeasured in num- 
ber, extent, and richness. The virgin fields of California and 
Australia, once so glittering with gold and so potent in attraction, 
had lost their glamour with the scouring of their sands and the 
passing of their novelties. It had been demonstrated with plain, 
cold figures and dismal accuracy that the average farmer was get- 
ting far more from his wheat or potato patch than the average 
prospector from his scramble in a gold-field. But who could 
calculate, or even pretend to predict with any assurance, the pros- 

1 " South Africa," Theal. "Impressions of South Africa," James Bryce. 
" The Story of South Africa," William Basil Worsfold. " Cecil John Rhodes," 
Biography, " Imperialist." 

-I (185) 

(From a Photograph taken at Kimberley, 1884.) 


pect of fortune in this African wonderland, so phenomenal in 
character and so slightly explored ! Here was a strange, luring 
beacon in the heart of traditional Ophir, where river banks were 
apparently lined with diamonds, where diamonds were strewn 
on the face of farms, where children had diamonds to roll like 
marbles, where wells were driven through diamond beds, and 
huts were plastered with diamond-studded cement. Who would 
not rush to a region so sparkling in promise, so embalmed in 
traditions of resplendent empire, where another Koh-i-nur might 
be lying in wait in the dust for the first passer-by, and where a 
lucky adventurer might stuff his pockets with gems far surpass- 
ing the hoard of any extortionate nabob, and return home with 
a treasure that he could carry as lightly as a full purse ! 

The river placers had not drawn largely outside of the south- 
ern African colonies, but the discoveries at Dutoitspan, Bultfon- 
tein, De Beers, and Kimberley were so unexampled, and the 
mines on the surface were soon shown to be so marvellous, 
that their magnetic attraction was felt all over the globe. Who 
can wonder, then, that the flying, inflated, distorted rumors 
from this African hot-bed puffed up ardent fancy everywhere as 
tongues of flames in tinder, and that men of all nations, call- 
ings, and characters were swept along in the rush to the South 
African Diamond Fields ! Every sailing ship or steamer that was 
bound for a South African port from any part of the world, 
in 1871, bore some adventurers to the new fields. Some 
had good outfits and supplies of money, while others had barely 
been able to scrape together their passage costs. The seamen 
on the ship caught the infectious diamond fever, and ran away 
when the vessels were moored on the African coast, as their 
mates had done, years before, in the ports of California and Aus- 
tralia. Nothing but actual bonds could hold back the diamond 
seekers, and these would not serve if there was any chance to 
cut cords and break irons. 

The swarming of adventurers over mountain terraces, veld, 
and karoo was more motley and ardent than the first rush to the 
Vaal, and every one was consumed by the fear that others ahead 


of him were dividing up the rich ground and a day's delay might 
cost him a fortune. So never before was there such a scurrying, 
reckless of lagging ox-teams and horses, blazing suns, and blind- 
ing dust. What a fuming there was, too, on the river banks 
when the sudden floods halted the rush with their impassable 
torrents, and the pilgrims on nettles watched the yellow water 
run surging, swirling, and whirling between them and their goal ! 
Most of the adventurers still plodded along with their bul- 
lock wagons, but some who could afford to pay roundly Gi2) 
for transport were carried to the Diamond Fields by the wagons 
of the Inland Transport Company, an enterprising association 

Coach leaving Kimberley for the Coast, 1875. 

which undertook to run a regular coach-line to the Vaal from 
Wellington, the terminus of the short Cape railway in 1870. 
The carriage was a long, narrow wagon with five rows of seats 
for fourteen passengers and a driver. Only forty pounds of 
baggage could be carried by a passenger, but men who were 
anxious to reach the mines were ready to start without even a 
shift of shirts. Eight wiry horses dragged this rattling wagon 
over the rough track at a lively rate, changing teams at relay sta- 
tions, from thirty to forty miles apart, and making the trip to the 
Vaal in eight or nine days when the way was not blocked by 
floods. By this stride of progress the journey from Cape Town 
was made in less than a quarter of the time required by the 
crawling ox-wagons from the other coast ports, although these 


towns were two hundred miles nearer the Diamond Fields. This 
was proudly noted as an advance of rapid transit, which prom- 
ised greater developments, and was one of the many stirring 
impulses of the diamond discoveries. But as only one stage- 
coach started weekly from Wellington, the chief contribution of 
the new line to South Africa lay in its promise rather than its 
performance. 1 It was the first push of the enterprise which has 
followed its hoof tracks' through the African desert with the tire- 
less race of the iron horse. 

While this swarm was gathering from India, Australia, 
Europe, and America, and pressing toward the diamond mines 
through the southern Colonial ports, another swarm was enter- 
ing the fields from inland Africa. To the native tribesmen the 


opening of the diamond mines was a certain Golconda. For the 
shovelling of gravel under a burning sun, for the heaving of 
boulders, for the shaking of cradles in the midst of whirling dust, 
for the quarrying in pits and the scraping on sorting tables, 
the wiry sinews, pliant muscles, nimble fingers, and sharp eyes of 
Africans, inured to the scorch of the sun, the pelt of the rain, 
and the blast of the sand, were greatly serviceable. So there was 
a cordial greeting of the influx of natives, ready to work for the 
barest pittance of pay while their masters lolled in the shade. 

First came the neighboring Griquas, Koranas, and Batlapins, 
with Basutos from their southern reservation, followed by a 
stream of Zulus, Mahowas, Malakakas, and Hottentots, and 
Kafirs of one hundred tribes, ranging east to the Indian Ocean 
and far northwest into Namaqua and Bechuana lands and north- 
east into Matabeleland and the regions lying beyond the Limpopo 
and the Zambesi. 2 There was every shade of dusky color in this 
throng, from livid and tawny yellow to jet black. Some stalked 
proudly over the veld in the full plumage of the Zulu veteran, 
with flowing ox-tail girdles, armlets, and anklets, decked with 

1 "Among the Diamonds," 1870-1871. 

2 " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. "South Afri- 
can Diamond Fields and Journey to Mines," William James Morton, M.D., New 
York, 1877. 

.ill AFRICA 

ht- Diamond Fields. This 
npid transit, which prom- 
A.IS one of the many stirring 
cries. Hut as only one stage- 
. iip.gton, the thief contribution of 
lay in its promise rather than its 
irst push of rhe enterprise which has 
Mi!.' Afrcan desert with the tire- 
India, Australia, 
he diamond mines 
^arm was enter- 
ribesmen the 
nda. For the 

. . fu- heaving of 

i whirling dust, 
...rting tables, 

of the rain, 
there was 
rk for the 
df" p - t-)i ) " shade. 

id Batlapins, 
Allowed by a 

v:i,. 1 !>>ttentots, and 

MIC Indian Ocean 

;oua and lvchiKin;i 'a' and north- 

Syini^ bey nn .; the Limpopo 

;)t J'isky color in this 

an 1 ;\\n -. -''>.. Some stalked 

;ni-.iu;c ot the Zulu veteran, 

..-! v. :-ilets, dn< :".kiets, decked with 

id I" ru-.i," l'r>: :, i^~2. " S^uth Afri- 

vV'ii ."D- Morton, M.D., New 


waving feathers and gleaming earrings and bracelets. Others 
vied with this show in greasy red shakos, faded blouses, and other 
cast-off equipments of soldiers and hunters. So the parade ran 
down to the barest loin cloth or utter nakedness, through leopard 
skin wraps, dirty karosses, ragged breeches, tattered shirts, and 
every other meagre covering of the native hunter or shepherd. 
Some of this drift to the mines tramped more than a thousand 
miles over mountain ridges and sun-scorched veld, swimming 
through rivers, scrambling down steep ravines, and plunging deep 
in mud and desert sand, to reach their goal, as many did, gaunt 
skeletons of men, with bleeding feet, and bodies scratched and 
sore and tottering with weariness and hunger. 1 

Diamonds were no temptation to them. They would not 
have walked a mile to pick up a Koh-i-nur. But the white dia- 
mond seekers were willing to pay, for a few months' hunting for 
little white pebbles, enough to buy a cheap gun and a bag of 
powder and balls most precious of all earthly things in the 
eyes of a roving African. Then the white camps were lively, 
humming social resorts, abounding with good food and tempting 
drink, where black men were welcome and well protected. So 
the natives swarmed in faster and faster as the mining progressed 
and the news spread to distant regions. Some of this swarm could 
be persuaded to remain at the mines for a year or more and work 
quite steadily ; but most drifted away, at the end of a few months, 
or as soon as they were able to get their coveted guns and powder 
pouches. Thus while many thousands flocked yearly to the Fields 
from their opening, the outflow kept the supply from swamping 
the demand. As this influx from the dark continent met and 
mingled with the rush from the outside world in the diamond- 
mine workings and camps, how greatly vivid, unique, and stir- 
ring were the kaleidoscopic shifts of this strange concourse ! 
Europe, Asia, Africa, and America had boiled over into a hotch- 
potch, splashed on a diamond bed in the heart of South Africa. 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. "South Afri- 
can Diamond Fields and Journey to Mines," William James Morton, M.D., New 
York, 1877. 



OW quickly and marvellously was the face of 
the little South African stock farms transformed 
by this influx ! Open pasture land, where the 
eye saw one day only a few scattered cattle 
browsing on the thin grass and scratching their 
sides against a stunted camelthorn, was covered 
next day by swarms of roving prospectors, with shovels and 
sieves, upturning grass roots and shaking dry earth through 
their screens. White canvas camps, foaming with life, rose in a 

Kimherley, before the Discovery of Diamonds. 

night, with the seeming magic of Aladdin's palace, at the foot of 
kopjes where, before, a burrowing meerkat was the only tenant. 
Beyond the masses of tents ranged long straggling arches of 
wagon tops and tethered troops of bullocks, horses, and mules. 




Only a few months from the day when the first diamond was 
picked up near du Toit's pan, the camp at Dorstfontein was 
proudly claiming the title of the " City of the Pan." A spacious 
market square was laid out on the ground between the pan 

Dutoitspan. (From a very early Photograph.) 

and the ridge covered with diamond diggers, and around this 
square were ranged the white walls of the aspiring camp. 
Streets radiating from the central square gave open access to the 
market-place, and the white tent blocks were soon dotted near 
the square with shops of brick and iron and wood, rivalling the 
pioneer diamond-digging town of Klip-drift on the Vaal. 1 

Klip-drift struggled on with the best face possible, making 
much of its position of vantage as the distributing market of all 
camp supplies from the South African Republic ; but its day of 
ascendancy soon flitted away never to return. In September, 
1871, its chief standard-bearer, the Diamond News, moved to 
the " City of the Pan," and there was no question from that time 
of the preeminence of the " dry diggings," although a rival 
paper, the Diamond Field, bore up for a time under the sinking 
fortunes of Klip-drift. Before the end of the year 1871, 
Dutoitspan boasted " many large hotels," " immense stores," 

1 " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Charles Alfred Payton, London, 



two churches, a hospital, and a theatre, and might have men- 
tioned, besides, its less distinguished billiard room, "canteens," 
and dance halls. 1 It was surely a wonderful birth of a smartly 
growing infant city on the face of scrub-covered prairie in the 
heart of South Africa. 

The rise of the camps at De Beers and Kimberley was even 
more rapid than the growth of the camp on Dorstfontein and 
Bultfontein farms. There was no regular working in the De 
Beers diggings before May, 1871, but the diggers could buy 

Kimberley, 1873. 

Christmas presents that year in rows of brick and iron stores 
on the main roadsides, intermingled with " hotels " and saloons, 
and a great white canvas town was spread out in a picturesque 
medley of tents and marquees, straggling far over the veld, and 
seeking the shelter of some stubbornly rooted mimosa or camel- 
thorn. 2 Kimberley's growth was still more surprising. Three 
months after the rush began, the Colesberg Kopje was the centre 
of an immense encampment in whose heart streets were irregularly 
laid out, and neat stores built of iron and brick. In December, 
1871, there were, by actual count, on the lower street of Kim- 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 2 Ibid. 


berley, six stores, four hotels, and several butcher and shoe- 
maker shops, besides a billiard room and saloon. On the upper 

Around Kimberlcy Mine, 1872. 

or main street there were three hotels, several diamond merchants' 
offices, a wholesale spirit and provision store, a bakery and con- 
fectioner's shop, a drug dispensary, butchers' shops, eating houses, 
bars, club and billiard rooms, and other miscellaneous shops and 
resorts. On the edge of these white-walled cities, and on the 
slopes of all the neighboring hills, were scattered the huts of wood 
or dirty canvas or mud-plastered stones, where the native blacks 
huddled together. When even this cover was lacking, some 
slept in tents, or in burrows scraped in the hillsides. How many 
diamond seekers were massed in these camps at the height of 
the rush can hardly be reckoned with any approach to exactness. 
There may have been fifty thousand whites and blacks on the 
Fields, for the flow to Dutoitspan is said to have mounted as high 
as forty thousand shortly after the opening of the Vooruitzigt 
farm mines. 


When, after long weeks of plodding over rugged mountain 
ranges, parched karroos, and rolling prairie, a traveller suddenly 
saw rising before him these white camps, springing up like pro- 
digious mushrooms in an African desert, even the dullest brain 
was strangely disturbed. It was hard to realize that these exotic 
plants were the work of men's hands, for they seemed rather the 
fantastic conceit of the trance of an opium eater. Here were 
such cities as the mirage shapes from clouds or as Solomon 
might have built with the help of his docile genii. When they 
lay outstretched and gleaming under the burning sun in the 
full splendor of noon, they were weird creations to amaze the 
beholder ; but who can conceive their impress at night, under 
the towering sky dome sprinkled with stars, with their masses of 

Around Kimberley Mine, 1872. 

twinkling and sparkling lights on the black face of the veld, like 
the tail of a fallen comet. 1 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. " To the Cape 
for Diamonds," Frederick Boyle, 1873. "South African Diamond Fields," Will- 
iam Jacob Morton, 1877. 


Outside of these three main camps tents were thickly 
sprinkled around the farmhouse of Bultfontein, in a field where 
a thousand diggers were at work in the first week of the rush, 
after the ground was opened in May, 1871. Immediately south 
of this diamond-bearing farm was the farm Alexandersfontein, 
where many prospectors were also turning and sifting the ground. 
By the determination of the limits of Griqualand West these 
diggings, as well as the chief camps, became part of the British 
Colonial domain ; for the boundary line separating the new Col- 
ony from the Orange Free State ran just outside of this cluster 
of farms, Vooruitzigt, Dorstfontein, Bultfontein, and Alexan- 
dersfontein, through the outlying farm of Benaauwdheids- 
fontein, where no diamond mine had, as yet, been discovered. 1 
So all the known diamond fields of South Africa, except the 
lagersfontein farm within the bounds of the Orange Free State 

> D 

and the shallow Vaal River placers, were bunched on a plateau 
four thousand feet above the sea level, within the angle formed 
by the junction of the Vaal with the Orange River, on a patch 
with a radius of 1.72 miles at the crossing of longitude 24 46' 
east of Greenwich with latitude 28 43' south of the equator. 

The London and South African Exploration Company, by 
its purchase of Dorstfontein, Bultfontein, and Alexandersfontein, 
held a tight grip on the mineral rights comprehending the dia- 
monds on all these farms, and leased the surface diggings under 
licenses of IDS. for every claim 30 feet square. Messrs. Dunell, 
Kbden & Co., of Port Elizabeth, held the farm of Vooruitzigt, 
and exacted the same license fee for working claims which were 
laid out in squares 30 by 30 Dutch feet, or 3 1 by 31 English 
feet. 2 Outside of the Colesberg Kopje or Kimberley mine all 
the diggings were at first a jumble of holes, pits, and burrows, 
with no attempt to secure any system or union in mining. But 
the objections to this helter-skelter opening of the ground were 
so apparent that a strict reservation of roadways to give access 
to all parts of the surface of the mine was insisted upon by the 

1 "Diamonds and Gold in South Africa," Theodore Reunert, 1893. 

2 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 


i-.f these three main camps tents were thickly 

.I'i-unJ tiie farmhouse ot Bulttuntein, in a held where 

iigge r s uere at work in rhe first week ot the rush, 

u around was opened in M:iv, iSyj. Immediately south 

il'Hmoml-hv.irne farm was thr farm Alexandersfontein, 

manv prospectors xscrealso turning and sifting the ground. 

;-M; oi the limits of (jriqualand West these 

, as \\e 1 a rhe chief camps, became part of the British 

it boundary line separating the new Col- 

^tate ran just outside of this cluster 

.'nmtein, Bultfontein, and Alexan- 

nuiiying tarm of Benaauwdheids- 

ine had, as vet, been discovered. 1 

h';-id> of South Africa, except the 

"unds of the Orange Free State 

. % : .uers, were bunched on a plateau 

.; level, within the angle formed 

Showing Roadways and End View of Ex cav ; at ^|Titude 24 46' 

4;' south of the equator. 

.\;-";}n (Exploration Company, by 

O': tontein, and Alexanderstontein, 

. ;-;ii i-ght^ comprehending the dia- 

;\i-;\{ rhe surface diggings under 

square. Messrs. Dunell, 

\rm of Vooruitzigt, 

4 claims which were 

} i by 3 i Knglish 

')u'-> Kimberley mine all 

cs, pits, and burrows, 

.;mn in mining. But 

'. V'L 1 of the ground were 

"rivhvays to give access 

v^a^ insisted upon by the 

A (.' ? - <-.' l-.ip Rcunert, 189-5. 



Orange Free State Inspector of Mines, in the laying out of 
claims on the Colesberg Kopje. His authority was then so far 
recognized that his direction controlled the survey and opening, 
on July 21, 1871, of the diggings since famous as the Kimberley 
Diamond Mine. 

Roadways, 15 feet in width, running approximately north 
and south, were carried across the longer axis of the diamond 
bed, at a distance of 47 feet from one to the other. Each road 
cut 7^ feet of surface ground from the side of the bordering 

Kimberley Mine, 1872. 

claims, so that the working surface of each allotted claim was 
31 by 23-!- feet. Fourteen of these roadways crossed the mine, 
whose ground surface permitted the laying out of about 430 
claims of the allotted size, 3 1 feet square. A great many more 
claims had been granted to license-holders before the survey, 
for there had been no accurate measurement of the kopje, and 
there was a consequent overlapping and conflict of locations and 
spreading of claims beyond the limits of the diamond-bearing 
ground. In the settlement of contests the claims were split up 
by concessions, bargains, and sales, until there were not less than 
1600 separate holdings of claims, and fractional parts running as 
small as -j^-, or about 7 square yards. A lucky claim-holder 


would sell off parts of his claim or the whole at high prices ; for 
bidders were ready to pay large premiums beyond the license 
fee of IQS. exacted from every working owner, whether his claim 
was full size or a paring. The competition for a share in the 
riches of the ground was only less keen at De Beers, and there 
was a like subdivision of claims there, and not infrequently at 
Dutoitspan and Bultfontein. 1 

It was obvious from the start, without any stretch of fore- 
sight, that these minute subdivisions of claims and individual 
working were only practicable in open cuttings whose depth 
must depend on the character of the ground and the cooperation 
of the miners. But at the outset of the mining in these Fields 
no one could forecast the unknown continuance in depth of the 
diamond deposits, and few supposed that the new beds differed 
essentially from any before uncovered, and were vastly more im- 
portant than the shallow gravel wash along the banks of the 
Vaal. It was commonly expected that some barren stratum 
would be reached not far from the surface, corresponding to the 
" bed rock " of the river diggings, and that this must terminate 
the hope of the diamond seekers. 2 So the rush for the surface 
claims was the keener, in view of the belief that a few months' 
work at most would exhaust the precious deposit, and nobody 
paused to consider what he would do if he was unable to sink 
an open pit deeper. 

Beneath the red surface soil at Dutoitspan a thin layer of 
calcareous tufa 3 had been exposed, below which lay the dia- 
mond-bearing breccia which the miners called " yellow ground " 
from its prevailing color. 4 At De Beers and Kimberley there 
was comparatively little limestone beneath the red soil, for the 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 2 Ibid. 

3 I look upon the calcareous tufa which covered the diamond mines as only 
the altered yellow ground which had been metamorphosed by the evaporation of 
water highly charged with carbonate of lime. The calcareous tufa which covered 
the Premier mine was diamond bearing. This is the only one of the mines 
whose surface ground has come under my personal observation. The Author. 

4 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 




rich " yellow ground " rose nearly to the surface under a thin 
coating of chalk. It appeared in exploring the yellow ground in 
most of the openings that the deposit was enclosed in an oval- 
shaped funnel of shale, or decomposed basalt resting on shale, 
which the miners called " reef." This reef contained no dia- 
monds and marked the limits of any profitable prospecting. 
The surface area of the yellow ground within one of these fun- 
nels ranged from about ten acres at Kimberley to twenty-three 
acres at Dutoitspan, and on these patches all the diamond-bearing 
claims of the Fields were located. 1 

When the bottom of the " yellow ground " was reached at a 
depth of from fifty to sixty feet below the surface, it was sup- 
posed at first that diamond digging in the funnels had come to 
an end ; but the hard underlying rock was cut by experi- 
menters, and it was found, to the delight of the miners, that 
this also was diamond bearing. It was a breccia composite, 
essentially like the " yellow ground " above, but much more 
compact and hard, and of a prevailing bluish slate color, so 
that it was familiarly known as " blue ground." Exposure to 
the air, sun, and rain decomposed it so rapidly that most of the 
rock could be readily pulverized after a few weeks, and its 
precious contents extracted by sifting. The whole mass of the 
ground in the funnels was diamond-bearing, in greater or less 
extent, except in occasional streaks and masses of barren shale, 
floating reef, floating shale, or non-diamond-bearing volcanic 
mud, and volcanic rocks. So the pit sinking was widened to 
the extreme limits of the claims, and the entire area of yellow 
and blue ground excavated in open quarries. 

The work was pushed with feverish energy and remarkable 
rapidity in view of the bare hand labor and crude mining appli- 
ances, but there was no uniformity of method or extended 
cooperation. Every claim-holder cut down his patch with pick 
and shovel, and lifted the broken ground in a way that suited 
his individual notion. Some set stout windlasses in the surface 
ground near the edge of their claims, and hoisted buckets filled 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 2 Ibid, 



on the working levels. Others carried up buckets and tubs 
and rawhide sacks to the surface, climbing ladders resting on 
successive terraces, or mounting flights of steps cut in the rock, 
or trundling wheelbarrows up plank inclines. Around the edge 
of the mines there was a mustering of carts, and barrows, and 
carriers, to bear off the quarried ground to depositing places, 
where it was dried, pounded, and sifted. 1 

The open quarries, swarming with workers, buzzed like pro- 
digious beehives. The upsetting of the tower of Babel would 
scarcely have poured out such a medley of tongues and sounds. 
From the vast amphitheatres scooped in the rock there rose in 
the air the clicking of picks, the rasp and clatter of shovels, the 
cracking of rock, the rattle of gravel, the thud of bucket-filling, 
the creaking of windlasses, the tramp over planks, the thump of 
wheelbarrows, the rolling of carts, the lowing of bullocks and 
braying of mules, mingled with calls and chatter and chants 
of whites and blacks in an indescribable din. Diggers in rough 
working dress, and natives almost stark naked, bent and heaved, 
and scrambled and climbed, side by side, reeking with sweat 
and grime, in an ever shifting, restless swarm that covered the 
face of the quarry like flies in some monstrous sugar bowl. The 
flocking in of the native African tribes joined with the white 
diamond seekers in opening the strange funnels of crystal- 
sprinkled breccia made a compound of color, feature, and 
character never before assembled in any mines on the face of 
the earth. 2 The sinewy negroes proved themselves such willing 
and sturdy workers in the dust and heat of the sun-scorched 
quarries, that the claim-holders were glad to hire them and 
confine their own work to the task of overseers, directing the 
digging and hauling, and the sifting and sorting. No blaze of 
the sun and no whirl of the dust could subdue their bubbling 
spirits, breaking out in wild whoops and chants, and yelling in 
pack when any big diamond was found, revelling in every 
chance diversion, the fall of a bucket, the slip of a ladder, the 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. "South Afri- 
can Diamond Fields," Morton, 1877. 2 Ibid. 








tumble of a climber, and convulsed with laughter whenever they 
could set mules capering, or bullocks shying or balking by shrill 
whistles and screams, and mimicry of a driver's call: "Yek!" 
and " Trek ! " " Ah now ! " and " Whoa ! " and so through the 
range of cries, Dutch, English, and African. 1 

Almost all the natives were barefooted, and most were bare- 
headed, barebacked, and barelegged, except in the coldest weather. 
Some had ragged trousers, and others ragged shirts, but few put 
both on together. A greasy, gaudy handkerchief twisted around 

Kimberley Mine, 1872. 

a black head, and party-colored bunches of rags, or moochies 
made of the tails or skins of wild animals, dangling from a waist- 
belt of rawhide, were a camp parade dress too precious to use 
in the quarries. Mingled with these wild Africans, the white 
miners worked soberly and arduously, bearing the pains of 
diamond digging stoically, in the hope of its rewards. Their 
working clothes were commonly plain suits of brown corduroy 
or other coarse cloth adapted to the season, and when the sun 
shone they wore generally broad-brimmed straw hats, or pith 
helmets, with light muslin "puggarees." 

It was long before there was any notable advance in the pro- 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 2 Ibid. 


cess of separation of the diamonds from the ground, beyond the 
cradle for dry sifting, constructed to take the place of the com- 
mon hand-sieve at Dutoitspan. Level spots were sought on 
the veld near the mines, or patches of ground were levelled 
sufficiently to serve as dumping places, where the broken dia- 
mond-bearing breccia was piled and spread out. The "blue 
ground " exposed to the air crumbled away by degrees, but the 
miners were rarely patient enough to wait for this disintegration, 
preferring quick returns by pulverizing the ground with their 
shovels and mallets. This was hard work and costly, from the 
loss in imperfect pulverization. But the diamond seekers were 

Roads in Kimberley Mine, 1871-1872. 

poor men who could scarcely afford to hold any stock of blue 
ground for the sake of increased returns, even if they had been 
able to guard their depositing floors from theft. After pound- 
ing the broken rock it was sifted in the midst of dust clouds by 
rockers swung on riems of rawhide, and the concentrate was 
then scraped over and sorted. 1 In July, 1871, a large cylindri- 
cal revolving sieve, driven by a small steam engine, was put at 
work by some American miners, and this sifting machine was 
said to be an efficient and rapid separator. The pulverized 
ground was thrown into the upper end of the screen, which was 

1 "South African Diamond Fields," Morton, 1877. "Diamonds and Gold 
in South Africa," Reunert, 1893. 



rapidly revolved, and the concentrate passed out through the 
lower end, falling upon a sorting table. The cylinder, covered 
with fine wire mesh, sifted out the dust thoroughly, and its opera- 
tion was so rapid that thirty cartloads of diamond-bearing ground 
were screened daily. Its owners claimed to be able to sift all 
the ground in a claim thirty feet square to a uniform depth of 
thirty feet in three weeks. The machine attracted a curious 
crowd at first, when the steam whistle blew off and the cylinder 
began to throw off thick clouds of dust, but for some reason its 


Kimberley Mine. (Showing 

racks appear in the foreground.) 

use was not long continued. Probably the fine mesh was too 
light to bear the strain and friction of the revolving rock 
fragments. 1 

The amount of ground which any one man could work, was, 
of course, very small, but there were so many workers on the 
Fields that the aggregate extent of ground sifted was enormous, 
and the breccia in spots was so thickly sprinkled with crystals 
that many miners won rich rewards. When Payton was leav- 
ing the field in November, 1871, it was estimated that from 
forty to fifty thousand pounds' worth of diamonds were taken 
1 " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 


weekly from the Colesberg Kopje alone, and he states that the 
best claims had risen in value from ^100 or less to ^4000. l 

It was clearly shown, too, that even the highest price paid 
for a claim might be cheap, for one poor Dutchman, " Smuts," 
who bought half a claim for ^50, is said to have found dia- 
monds in two months' working to the value of ^1 5,000 or 
more. Another digger found, in a few months, no less than 
730 stones in his claim, one of which weighed 156 carats." 
Such great good fortune was rare in the other mines, and many 
miners won little or nothing from months of hard work in their 
claims, but in the Colesberg Kopje, or Kimberley mine, the 
prizes were so common and exciting that every foot of ground 
was covered by diamond seekers. When the rubbing of shoul- 
ders was too close for comfort, one or more of the partners in 
a claim would be pressed to sell out and start again prospect- 
ing. Sometimes a share in a claim, worth many hundreds of 
pounds, would be risked on the toss of a penny. 8 

In the heat of the search and extraction many fine diamonds 
were fractured, and many of the smaller stones ran through the 
sieves into the tailings, as was afterward demonstrated when 
the waste heaps were reworked with better appliances. 4 The 
Kimberley mine produced some stones of large size, running 
sometimes over one hundred carats, but the mass of crystals ran 
under five carats. A yellowish tinge was more marked in the 
diamonds of the uplands than in the river stones, and many 
otherwise superb crystals were so decidedly " off color " that 
their value was greatly impaired. 

It was early noticed that the diamonds of one mine often 
differed materially from those of another, and even in the same 
mine diamonds of one section were unlike the yield of another. 
Thus, in the west end of the Kimberley mine the diamond crys- 
tals were exceptionally perfect octahedrons, or exceptionally white 
" glassy stones," as the miners called them ; while elsewhere in 
the mine the crystals had,more commonly, rounded and bevelled 

1 " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 2 Ibid. 8 Ibid. 
4 "Diamonds and Gold in South Africa," Reunert, 1893. 




edges, and, more or less, a yellowish tinge, and there was a large 
proportion of split, flawed, and spotted stones, and boart. The 
De Beers mine crystals resembled the Kimberley stones, but 
their quality ran a little below the Kimberley mine. Dutoitspan 
produced comparatively few stones, but the average weight was 
notably large, and the crystals were of fine color. Bultfontein 
stones differed greatly from those of the other mines. Here 
the diamonds were chiefly small, rounded octahedrons, many of 
them so pocked and spotted that the crystals had a cloudy 
appearance. 1 These crystals were greatly inferior to the " glassy 
stones " of Kimberley or the large diamonds of Dutoitspan ; 
but the Bultfontein surface ground yield was so uniform at 
first, that many diggers held and worked claims for the sake of 
sure, if small, returns to defray their expenses, while they counted 
on their Dutoitspan claims for the occasional large stones that 
richly rewarded a lucky digger. 

All the crystals in the blue ground were encased in a smooth 
bed of the same material which did not adhere to the diamonds, 
so that their lustre, when extracted, was quite bright or glassy. 
Amid the mass of white and light yellowish stones in all the 
mines were scattered some of varied color. Brown was the 
most common of these ; next came the deeper yellow shades, 
and pale blue stones were sometimes uncovered, as well as the 
black diamond (boart) used for setting drill-crowns. Pink, 
mauve, and green diamonds were occasionally found, but were 
less common than in the river diggings. 

As already mentioned, it has been estimated that the rush 
which built up these mining camps and covered the surround- 
ing farms with prospectors brought fifty thousand men to the 
new Diamond Fields in the first year, though the shifting popu- 
lation of the Fields did not rise as high as that at any one time. 2 
The influx of native Africans was not so large at first, but 
increased from year to year. Morton says that there was a flow 
of thirty thousand natives annually to the field for seven years 

l " South African Diamond Fields," Morton, 1877. 

2 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 


after the discovery of the mines. 1 This is a credible estimate, at 
least, in view of the constant drifting away from the field of the 
native workers, after a few months' stay, when they had earned 
sufficient money to buy their coveted guns and ammunition, and 
wives, cattle, blankets, etc. 

The bulk of the general merchandise was hauled slowly from 
the coast ports in ox-wagons. Algoa Bay (Port Elizabeth) was 
the chief port of supply at first, and the transport to the Dia- 
mond Fields was a trip ranging from thirty days, at least, to six 
months. 2 Certain kinds of food beef, mutton, poultry, game, 
dried venison, commonly called "biltong," 3 and maize meal 
(mealie meal) were furnished quite cheaply and plentifully from 
the neighboring Free State and the South African Republic, 
through the Klip-drift distributing market. Tobacco, butter, 
eggs, and honey were less freely supplied from the country, and 
commanded a ready sale. Ordinary beef and mutton sold for 
4<^. a pound in 1871, with an additional charge for choice steaks. 
A whole sheep could be bought at wholesale for 4^. Game, 
chiefly springbok, blesbok, and wildebeest, was as cheap as 
mutton. Chickens and ducks ranged from 2s. 6d. to 3^. 6d. 
apiece. The price of eggs ran high, ranging from 2s. 6d. to 4-$-. 
a dozen, and butter was sold at from is. 6d. to 5^. per pound. 
For " Boer meal," a coarse wheat flour, the charge was from 
35.$-. to 50^. per muid, about 183 pounds ; white flour brought 6d. 
a pound; rice 9^.; sugar and tobacco 9^. to is. ; oranges and 
onions were sold at los. per hundred, and dried fruits at from 
%d. to gd. per pound. 4 

The most urgent calls were for fresh vegetables, and the 
supply was so meagre that the prices shot up to exorbitant fig- 
ures. From 5^-. to js. was freely given for a bucketful of 
potatoes, and the wholesale price for a bag of a hundredweight 

1 "South African Diamond Fields," Morton, 1877. 

2 " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 

3 Biltong is made of meat of any of the antelope species, but that made from 
the springbok is considered the best. 

4 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 


was from ^2 to 1 IQJ. Half a crown (sixty cents) was often 
paid for a small cabbage or a handful of onions. Choice forage 
for the horses and mules was almost as costly as vegetables. A 
bundle of five pounds of unthreshed oat hay was sold for as high 
as is. Dry cut fuel was as high-priced as forage. Bundles of 
light sticks sold from gd. to is. per bundle, and 3 was charged 
for a load of good firewood. There was a considerable forest 
growth on the hills near the Vaal River, and many thickets 
on the ridges nearer the camps, but the cost of cutting and haul- 
ing was so great that many diggers contrived to make their fires 
of dried bullocks' dung (buffalo chips as they were called by the 
emigrants crossing the American plains), as they had learned to 
do when crossing the karroo. 1 

Market auctions were the common and popular mode of 
selling food and ordinary miners' supplies. Criers swinging bells 
rang up the drowsy camps for the early morning market, where 
meat, eggs, butter, fruit, and vegetables were offered from wagons 
and stalls in the open market squares. These sales and gather- 
ings of bidders and lookers-on formed one of the liveliest camp 
scenes, especially on Saturday, when thousands of whites and 
blacks flocked to the auctions, surrounding the stands with dense 
masses of jovial bargainers. How strange and curious to a 
newcomer's eye was the market show, carcasses of big brown 
shaggy wildebeests hanging up in line with sides of beef, ante- 
lopes with slender legs stretched out stiffly among the slaughtered 
sheep and lambs, strips of biltong and freshly killed kids, 
little long-legged hares, party-colored bustards, red-wing par- 
tridges, red-legged plovers, guinea fowl, ducks, geese, and other 
wild fowl, mingled with the poultry from country farmyards ! 
Here were lines of huge tent-covered wagons filled with hides, 
and wool, and meal, and wood, driven to market by the stolid 
Boers or Hottentot servants grinning from ear to ear. Potatoes, 
and beets, and carrots, and onions, and cabbages were piled in 
heaps, tempting the last shilling of scurvy-haunted men. The 
gobbling of turkeys, the crowing of cocks, the quacking of 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 


ducks, swelled the chorus of chatter and laughing and singing 
and badinage, that smothered, at times, the brisk calls of the 
auctioneers and the offers of the diggers and the hotel and shop 
keepers. 1 

In the afternoons special sales of tents, miners' tools, guns, 
and general merchandise were frequently made by auction, and 
large stocks were sometimes sold off completely in this way. 
Often in the flurry of competition these goods brought absurdly 
high prices, when the market was overstocked with like articles 

Market Square, Kimberley. 

in the stores. It was observed as a curious fact that scarcely a 
bid could be got for revolvers, which many adventurers had sup- 
posed to be an indispensable part of their outfit. There were 
very few outbreaks of ruffianism in the camps, where the great 
body of miners was disposed to be orderly, and occasional sprees 
were the chief disturbances. The swaggering bullies, and cheat- 

DO O ' 

ing gamblers, and lurking garroters, who infested the seething 
camps of Nevada and Colorado, rarely drifted as far as these 
isolated Diamond Fields, and the few who came in were held in 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 



The crying need of the camps was good water. The Du- 
toitspan basin did not always hold out through the dry season, 
and besides, this pan was filled by drainage and was not whole- 
some ; but two rude dams were built that served to store up 
drainage water longer than the natural reservoirs. To eke out 
the supply the " Diggers' Committee " at Dutoitspan and Bult- 
fontein sunk several wells which furnished some additional water, 
and a digger was licensed to draw two bucketfuls daily upon the 
payment of one shilling a month for his water rights. This 
privilege was so keenly sought for that there was always a little 
crowd of men with buckets, waiting their turn, at the mouth of 
a well in the daytime. The water was muddy, but it was never- 
theless eagerly drunk, and the stinted supply was too precious 
for washing. Following this push of the committee, prospecting 
water shafts were sunk by private enterprise, and when water was 
reached, the well was opened to a limited number of subscribers 
upon payment of a monthly fee of four shillings. 1 

At Kimberley, water, for months, was so dear that it was sold 
for threepence a bucket, and a daily washing of face and hands 
was a stretch of luxury. A stinted bath at Dutoitspan cost two 
shillings and sixpence, and bathing at the other camps was 
rarely attempted. When the coating of grime grew unbearable, 
the best resource was a ride or tramp to the Vaal and a plunge 
in the river. In the dry season, when the air was full of float- 
ing dust from the claims and cradles, and when hot winds from 
the veld blew in clouds of red sand, the dearth of water was 
bitterly felt, and no joker was safe who ventured to recall the 
" old oaken bucket " and other vain visions of cool, bubbling 

Often the dust-storms passed beyond the aggravation of 
thirst and discomfort, driving sand-whirls so furiously in the 
faces of the workers that the hardiest men were forced to drop 
their picks and shovels, and buckets and cradles, and run to 
cover. Then, for hours, storms would rack the tents, straining 
every cord and stitch of canvas to the snapping point, and often 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 


tearing rents in the walls, or pitching over tent-poles and all in 
utter wreck. Even when the stout posts, braced and guyed 
against a hurricane, bore the strain unyielding, the sheltered 
miners had to swelter in a mist of dust that was blown through 
the crevices into every fold of bedding and clothing, and coated 
every inch of their skins with irritating powder. 

Next to this pest of dust was the plague of flies, little and 
large, black and green, that swarmed over the camps in countless 
myriads in the summer season, tainting every morsel of food, and 
settling on every bare face or body with a dash so bold and per- 
sistent, and a grip so malignant, that it hurt like a sting. No 
possible device could clear the tents completely, or keep out 
these swarms ; but the miners armed themselves with big whisks 
of wildebeest and ox tails, and got some relief by constantly flick- 
ing and slashing, or when they were forced to use both hands 
at work on the cradles or sorting tables, " fly flappers " stood by 
to brush back attacks. 

Hot days in the dry diggings on the bare veld were more 
keenly felt than the same days on the tree-fringed Vaal, and 
some midsummer days were too scorching even for the endurance 
of the seasoned black diggers. But, except at midday, few work- 
ing hours were lost when the sun was shining. The swooping 
thunder-storms were scarcely less terrific than the storms in the 
river valley, striking the camps with drenching pelts of rain and 
heavy hail, hurled from cloud banks blazing and bellowing with 
monstrous forks of lightning and stunning thunder peals. 

The clear winter days were greatly invigorating. At break 
of day it was often so cold that jugs of water were skimmed 
with ice and a hoar frost covered the ground. But when the 
bright sun mounted the sky, the chill air was so warmed in a 
few hours, and so pure on the breezy veld, that the miners 
gained fresh spirit with every breath, and went through their 
monotonous round of work with unflagging life and good humor. 
The actual record of a week at the mines, in August, 1871, gives 
a clear idea of the winter shifts of temperature. 1 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 



Highest Temperature. Lowest Temperature. 

Aug. 21 83 Fah 40 Fah. 

" 22 85 " 35 " 

" 23 83 30 " 

" 24 92 " ...... 33 " 

<< 25 93 ' 28 " 

<< 26 56 28 " 

The health of the camps was usually good, except in mid- 
summer, when " low " fever, diarrhoea, dysentery, and colic were 
prevalent. The impure drinking water was the most persistent 
cause of sickness and the most difficult to combat. Inflamma- 
tion of the lungs from the fretting dust, and mild scurvy, were 
the other common ailments, occasioned by the conditions of life 
at the diggings. 1 

It was not all work and no play in these diamond diggings. 
Saturday afternoon was commonly taken as a half holiday in 
addition to the Sunday rest and recreation. In the springtime, 
or the beginning of the rainy season, fresh flowers sprang into 
bloom on the face of the veld, and birds built their nests in the 
grass and thickets. Little dusky black-and-white birds, recall- 
ing the English linnet, were sweetly trilling songsters, and were 
so fearless and sociable that they flew everywhere over the dig- 
gings, in the midst of the dust and stir, perching on heaps of 
broken rock, or even on the diggers' cradles, comically fluttering 
their tails, and chirping so musically that the wearied men were 
charmed to watch and listen. There was good shooting, too, for 
wild fowl and small game on the open veld ; and not far from 
Dutoitspan there was a large stretch of thickets and scrub where 
korhaans and paauws and partridges and plovers and hares 
abounded. The stately Kafir cranes shook their bluish gray 
plumes on the brink of the vleis, or water holes, where they 
came to drink, and were shot by the hunters who lay in wait. 
Their flesh was not unpalatable as a change from biltong, but 

1<r The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Pay ton, 1872. "To the 
Cape for Diamonds," Frederick Boyle, 1873. 


the hunters who pushed toward the Vaal brought back better 
eating than cranes in their bags, wild ducks and geese and 
guinea fowl, and even a nimble springbok or queer-headed wilde- 
beest or hartebeest. The swift leopard, too, was occasionally 
shot near the river bank, and the rambling diggers found some 
fun in unearthing porcupines, or chasing a jackal with dogs, or 
lying in wait for the shy head of a meerkat to pop out of a 
hole. A string offish, that could readily be caught in the river, 
made a welcome meal ; and a run to the Vaal, with a few days' 
camping under the willows and long swims in the swirling 
current, was a gay streak of diversion from dusty diamond 
digging. 1 

Within the camping grounds there were always, in the day- 
time and evening, stirring scenes to attract the eye, antics of 
ponies and mules ; the passage of straining bullock teams with 
carts piled high with diamond-bearing ground, or wagons loaded 
with country produce; the rambling of pedlers with packs 
and trays; the groups of native tribesmen in trappings of skins 
and feathers or comical old clothing, chattering or singing or 
whooping or dancing ; the clustering of black women, washing 
on the edge of the water pools ; the rallies of amateur minstrels 
and travelling shows ; the merry-go-round, ridden by laughing 
children or solemn country clowns ; the rattling of pins in the 
bowling alleys and clicking of balls on pool tables, the crowded 
" canteens," and all the other lively sights and sounds of the 
fermenting camps. 

Fortune-tellers and wizards, who professed to be able to see 
through the earth, did not need to dig diamonds. Credulous 
prospectors filled their laps with silver and gold. Payton tells 
of one whose tent in Dutoitspan was thronged, day and night, 
with eager dupes, showering shillings upon her, and her income 
was reckoned at 30 a day. Many of the Boers had unshak- 
able faith in her. When she told a poor Dutchman that there 
was nothing in his claim, he could not be persuaded to dig any 
longer. If she promised diamonds and none were found, she 

1 " The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 



had an easy defence : " The niggers must have stolen them." 
Then the wrathful claim-holder would pounce on his Kafirs and 
haul them to the " tronk," the police station of the camp, where 
the blacks were searched to the tips of their toes. Sometimes the 
wizard guessed right, for diamond stealing was common, and 
precious stones would be brought to light with joy to the owner 
and credit to the fortune-teller. 1 

The whipping-post was soon set up in the new camps and 
freely used to chastise theft and other offences. The whipping 

Natives resting, on their Way to the Mines. 

was not very severe, and it was remarked that the " cat " was not 
as heavy as the one at Klip-drift. Many of the natives would 
steal anything that they could carry off, and put on a brazen 
face that would impose on a police court judge. A story is told 
of two Hottentots who took the sheepskins off a man's bed and 
tried to sell them back to their owner as soon as his eyes were 
open in the morning. They took fifteen lashes on their bare 
backs without a whimper. Small fines were imposed for slighter 
breaches of the camp regulations, and roaring drunkards were 
occasionally clapped into the "tronk," a weak little jail, but the 

1 "The Diamond Diggings of South Africa," Payton, 1872. 


whipping-post was necessarily the main dependence for punish- 
ment of natives. 

Strangest and most interesting of all features of the camps to 
a newcomer were the habits and antics of the marvellous collec- 
tion of savages, streaming into the Fields from the heart of 
Africa. No mining camp on earth before ever held such a mot- 
ley swarm of every dusky shade, in antelope skins and leopard 
skins and jackal skins and bare skins, with girdles and armlets 
of white ox-tails, and black crane plumes and gorgeous bird 
feathers, and dirty loin cloths, and ragged breeches, and battered 
hats and tattered coats. With and without the fire of rum they 
might dash off at any moment into some wildly whirling reel 
or savage dance, gabbling in a hundred dialects, whooping with 
weird cries, and chanting plaintive, gay, and passionate strains, 
now dissonant, now sweet. Whenever a new party of " raw " 
natives came in from the wilderness, weary, grimy, hungry, shy, 
trailing along sometimes with bleeding feet and hanging heads, 
and bodies staggering with faintness, a howl of jeers was a com- 
mon greeting, and a pelting with rotten fruits and stones was 
likely to follow the scared troop up the street of the camp, 
though the natives were not churlish at heart, and might, after- 
ward, share their last crust with the strangers. 

Their savage habits clung to them long in camp. Some 
delighted to smoke in the old native way, by making a little 
funnel in the wet ground with a slender stick and sucking the 
smoke through one end while the tobacco leaves burned in a 
hollow at the other. As a rule all the natives from Delagoa 
Bay and districts to the north of that part smoked cigars with 
the fire end in their mouths. When sheep or bullocks were 
killed at market, the natives hung about and returned exulting 
if the obliging butchers gave them the entrails to hang in fes- 
toons about their necks and carry off smeared with filth. They 
fed content day after day on a few handfuls of mealies or ground 
maize with an occasional chunk of refuse meat. They had 
little use for water except to drink, and they much preferred 
Cape brandy. After working all day, and roving about and 



singing at night, they could sleep as soon as their heads touched 
the ground, on the bare earth, without shelter, or in a squalid 
hut with a dirty sheepskin wrapped around them. These quaint 
Africans, mingling in a kaleidoscopic show with adventurers 
coming from the ends of the earth, made a unique, moving 
drama on the stage of the Diamond Fields that cannot be 
forgotten by any spectator. 




N ever present danger hung over the miners 
from the very outset of their pit digging in the 
diamond-bearing funnels. The yellow ground 
was a breccia so loose and friable that it was 
constantly caving in upon the heads of the 
diggers. Then the pits were sunk so close 
together that the walls gave way and slipped, crumbling into the 
claims below. A loaded cart, passing along the edge of a road, 
would often topple over and sometimes plunge with driver and 
mule into the pit below. 

Prospecting on the Alexandersfontein farm was not long con- 
tinued ; but the diggings at Dutoitspan, Bultfontein, De Beers, 
and Kimberley were ardently opened by swarms of diamond 
seekers. The surface area covered by claims was very much 
larger than the diamond-yielding ground, whose total extent 
was, approximately, seventy acres. When the claims were con- 
solidated by purchase, many years later, the Kimberley open 
mine surface was figured to be 33 acres; De Beers, 22 acres; 
Dutoitspan, 45 acres; and Bultfontein, 36 acres. These meas- 
urements more than cover the extent of the original locations, 

O ' 

which were as follows : Kimberley, 470 claims, equal to 10.37 
acres; De Beers, 622 claims, equal to 13.72 acres; Dutoitspan, 
1441 claims, equal to 31.79 acres; and Bultfontein 1067 claims, 
equal to 23.54 acres. Only a few scattered diamonds were 
found outside of the rim of "reef" enclosing the diamond- 
bearing: craters. 


To present clearly the progress of mining in the several 
funnels, it is desirable to trace the advance of each separately 



through the period of the open mine working, to show the dif- 
ferent methods employed, and how one mine profited by the 
costly experience of another. The superior richness of the 
diamond-bearing ground in Kimberley mine urged forward its 
opening more rapidly than the development of the others, 
and this may properly be outlined first. The plan of min- 
ing, with the reservation of roadways determined by the Free 
State inspectors, proved a poor makeshift at best, before the 
sinking of claims had progressed many feet below the sur- 

The Breaking-up of the Roads, Kimberley Mine, 1872. 

face. The bordering-claim owners undercut the roadways cross- 
ing the mine, in working to the bounds of their allotments, 
and these reserved roads soon began to cave away in places to 
an extent that made the passage of carts very risky. It was 
doubtless convenient to have ready access to every part of the 
surface of the mine, and it was a moving spectacle when four- 
teen parallel roadways were covered with files of plunging mules 
and rumbling carts, goaded by the cries and whips of many hun- 
dreds of half-naked Kafirs or white drivers ; but it was a piti- 
ful burlesque of mining when the roadways cracked and crumbled, 
and crevasses were bridged with sliding planks, and mule carts 


Miners going to Work. 

and men staggered and slipped over the roadsides into abysses. 
Yet in spite of all risks and accidents, the roads were patched 
up and maintained in some shape long after it was evident that 
they were doomed. At length no possible patching and bridg- 



The Hand Drums used for Winding-up the Blue Ground. 

ing could arrest their fall. One after another, before the end 

of the year 1 872, had crumbled away and slipped into the great pit. 

The mine was then an open, oval quarry, about a thousand 

De Beers Mine, 1874. 

feet in length and six hundred feet in extreme width. The 
broken blue ground on the face of the rough jumble of terraces 


had been hoisted to the surface usually in buckets, by means of 
a rope passing around a windlass and through a pulley fixed 
in a pole set near the edge of the claim, but in 1872 a simple 
device of haulage over two grooved wheels was largely intro- 
duced. One wheel was set on the pit bottom, and the other on 
the surface, with a handle attached by means of which one or 
more stout natives could wind up a rope passing from wheel 
to wheel, carrying up a loaded bucket and lowering an empty 

Kimberley Mine, 1873. 

one. This crude device served the purpose as long as a wheel 
could be set near the edge of a claim on unbroken ground, or 
along the roadway ; but when all the claims were at the bottom 
of one huge open pit, it was obvious that only the outer tier of 
claims could be worked by this method. 

Then a haulage system of really remarkable ingenuity was 
contrived. A massive timber staging was set completely around 
the mouth of the mine, carrying two, and in parts three, plat- 
forms, one above the other. The upper platform was connected 
by strongly anchored ropes with the claims in the middle of the 
mine, and the lower platform in the same way, with the claims 



Kimberley Mine, 1874. 

nearer the margin of the mines. Where there was a third inter- 
vening platform, ropes were stretched to claims lying between 
the outer and inner circle. Windlasses were set on the plat- 

Another View of Kimberley Mine, 1875. 

***. >- 



Natives carrying Ground out of Dutoitspan Mine in Buckets. Mine flooded, May, 1874. 

forms, together with guide wheels over which hauling ropes 
passed, dragging the buckets swiftly from the bottom of the 
mine on little overhead runners, rattling over the stationary 
roped inclines. When the loaded buckets reached the platform 
levels they were dumped into chutes carrying the contents into 
bags, which were readily carted away to level depositing grounds, 
or "floors," as they were technically termed, where the blue 
ground was sifted and sorted. The empty buckets were easily 

Back View of the Staging with Grooved Wheels, at Kimberley, 1874. 



returned, running back by force of gravity over the ropes to 
the claims. The buckets were of rawhide, for this material 
was found to be more lasting than iron, and the ropes were at 
first largely of hemp or twisted rawhide ; but iron and steel 
wire gradually replaced all other material. 

So thickly together were these lines set, that the whole face 
of the vast pit seemed to be covered by a monstrous cobweb, 
shining in the moonlight as if every filament was a silver strand. 
Never has any eye seen such a marvellous show of mining as 

Kimberley Mine, 1875. 

was given in this grand amphitheatre, when the huge pit was sunk 
far below the surface level ; when the encircling wreath of the 
chasm rose sheer and black like the walls of a deep, gloomy 
canyon, or the swelling round of a demon's caldron ; when a 
downward glance from the perch of a platform made weak heads 
reel ; when thousands of half-naked men, dwarfed to pygmy 
size, were scratching the face of the pit with their puny picks 
like burrowing gnomes ; when thousands more, all grimy and 
sweating and odorous, were swarming around the pit's mouth, 
dragging up loads of diamond-sprinkled ground and carrying 
off their precious sacks ; when hide buckets were flying like 


Snow in Kimberley Mine, June 21, 1876. 

shuttles in a loom up and down the vast warp of wires, twanging 
like dissonant harp-strings, with a deafening din of rattling 
wheels and falling ground ; and where every beholder was won- 
der-struck at the thought that this weird creation in the heart of 

Method of Hauling, De Beers Mine, 1873. 



South Africa had been evolved by men for the sake of a few 
buckets of tiny white crystals to adorn the heads and hands of 
fanciful women. 1 

The First Horse Whim, Kimberley Mine, 1874. 

With the deepening of the mine, " horse whims," first intro- 
duced in 1874, were gradually substituted for hand tackle in 
hoisting and lowering the buckets, which were enlarged tubs 

Hauling Gear and Jumpers, Kimberley Mine, 1878. 

1 When Lord Randolph Churchill visited the diamond fields, while looking at a 
huge parcel of diamonds he remarked, " All for the vanity of woman." A lady, 
who heard the remark, added, " and the depravity of man." 


A Nook in Kin 

.-, 1874. 

holding five or six cubic feet of blue ground. These whims 
were timber wheels from fourteen to eighteen feet in diameter, 
set near the edge of the mine, to revolve horizontally about 




eight feet above the surface level. To turn the whim an iron 


hoop, projecting from the wheel, was attached to the harness of 
a horse or mule. The hauling rope was wound above the hol- 
lowed rim of the wheel, and each end of the rope was fastened 
to a tub, one hauling up the load of blue ground, and the other 
lowering the empty tub. 

In the following year, 1875, the first steam winding engine 
employed at the mines was transported to Kimberley to take 
the place of horse power in moving the whim, and the first 

The Horse Whims, Kimberley Mine, 1875. 

application of modern mining methods to the South African Dia- 
mond Fields was made. This seemingly tardy development was 
due less to a lack of enterprise than to the heavy charges of 
freight transportation from the coast, ranging for years over 
30 per ton, and to the scarcity and cost of fuel, combined with 
the lack of any positive assurance of the continuance in depth 
of the diamond-bearing ground. Such a deposit of diamonds 
as had been uncovered in the South African farm lands had 
never been opened before, and the erection of costly machinery 
for its extraction was naturally deemed an unwarranted risk. 


Hauling Gear, Dutoitspan Mine, 1876. 

But as the cutting passed farther and farther down through 
the reef-circled funnels without disclosing any barren stratum or 
break in the body of breccia, the surmise rose gradually to the 
point of conviction that the funnels were craters of extinct vol- 
canoes, filled by successive eruptions of steam or gas under great 
pressure with a diamantiferous breccia, carrying fragments of vol- 
canic and sedimentary rocks and crystals of many kinds of min- 
erals. This conclusion, however, was hardly more than one of 
several varying assumptions in advance of the thorough re- 
searches and analyses of later years, when the prosecution of 
deep mining works determined positively the existence of craters, 
the character of the breccia, and the composition of its encasing 
reef. So the progress of mining on the Diamond Fields was 
long a hesitating and tentative advance, groping step by step 
into the depths of the blue ground. 

After the device of staging and hoisting ropes had solved, 
for a time, the problem of open excavation in the Kimberley 
mine crater, and the caving of the blue ground was no longer 
a terror to the diggers, the collection of water in the pits was a 
serious annoyance. Most of this water was surface drainage, 


2 33 

Surface Loading Boxes. 

Aerial Trams and Surface Chutes, De Beers Mine, 1885. 


flooding the lower levels in the rainy season, but never sufficient 
in quantity to have been any considerable obstacle, if the mine 
had been equipped with the ordinary pumping machinery erected 
in other mining districts. The lack of any such machinery, 
compelling for years the bailing and hoisting of the water in 
buckets or tubs by hand or horse power, was no slight draw- 
back to the progress of sinking. Hard upon this impediment 
came the much graver trouble occasioned by the crumbling, 
cracking, sliding, and falling of the encasing reef of decom- 
posed basalt and shale. The unstable walls of these soft rocks 
caved rapidly upon exposure to air and moisture into the open 
pit, and the fracturing and slipping were aggravated by the 
imprudent vertical cutting of the mine, removing the entire 
body of blue ground without cutting away the reef in compara- 
tively stable terraces or slopes. Obviously no single claim-holder 
would undertake the cost of removing the dangerous reef for 
the common benefit, and it was difficult to secure the general 
cooperation and subscriptions so urgently required for this work. 
What is everybody's business in theory has too often been 
nobody's business in practice. The mean and short-sighted 

Hauling Gear, Kimberley Mine, 1885. 



hope to be protected without cost by the enterprise of the more 
liberal and prudent ! The central claim holders counted on the 
distance of their claims from the reef to assure their safety, and 
the outer circles of claim-holders hung upon luck to shield their 
ground. But the frequent recurrence of reef falls and slides, 

The French Company's Sling Gear, 1885. 

together with the gathering of troublesome water pools, so 
emphasized the necessity of combination that a Mining Board 
was organized in 1874 by general concurrence of the claim- 
holders, with power to levy a comprehensive assessment to cover 
the expense of keeping the mine clear of water and fallen reef. 
This board took the place of the original " Diggers' Committee " 
which had hitherto been charged with the execution of the crude 
code of mining regulations. 

The creation of this new administrative board was a move 
in the right direction, but unfortunately it did not go far 
enough. The opening of so large a number of small separate 
claims by individual holders barred the essential application of 
system to the sinking of the great pit. The Mining Board 
lacked the means, if it had the foresight, to undertake the 


checking of the reef slides by cutting back the vertical reef 
walls, and it attempted little practically besides the removal of 
the drainage and spring water and the clearing away of fallen 
reef from the face of the blue ground. This was slipshod 
mining at best, for the bare extraction of the reef, which had 
slid and fallen over the claims, actually exposed the mine to 
further reef slides, and this disaster was aggravated by the utter 

lack of system in 
clearing off the 
fallen debris. 
Every claim- 
holder was per- 
mitted to clear 
off his own claim 
and credited with 
an allowance of 
4^. for every load 
of 1 6 cubic feet 
of broken reef 
removed. The 
clearing of the 
face of one claim 
or a cluster of 
claims was no 

Loading Tubs at Bottom of Kimberley Mine, 1885. SCCUHtV 

repeated reef slides, and barred the possibility of developing 
any section of a mine in an economical and well-planned way. 

The practical impossibility of opening a little claim, whose 
surface area was only 961 square feet, beyond a limited depth 
forced the consolidation of claims in spite of the original pro- 
hibition of "claim blocking." The poorer sections of ground 
were the first to feel the pressure for the enlargement of hold- 
ings, and, to secure the continuance of working, permission was 
granted in 1874 by the Kimberley Mining Board for the hold- 
ing of ten claims by a single owner. This concession led to 



further combination and consolidation of claims in the hands 
of partners and stock companies, but the comprehensive union 
essential to the proper development of the mine was far too long 
delayed. The mining operations of a number of individual 
claim-owners, firms, and companies whether in keen rivalry 
or in varying degrees of energy and listlessness without any sus- 

The Standard Company's Claim, Bottom of Kimberley Mine, 1885. 

tained concert of views and means could not be prosecuted 
efficiently and prudently within the small area of a diamond- 
mine crater. Unluckily for the advance of diamond mining 
and the fortune of many struggling claim-holders, this irresist- 
ible conclusion was not made clear to the mass of miners until 
it was demonstrated after long years of costly fumbling in the 
diamond-bearing funnels. 

In view of the subdivision of ownership, the incoherence of 
the mining operations, and the lack of essential funds, the 
Mining Board can hardly be charged with a great part of the 


Bottom of Dutoitspan Mine Open Workings. 

burden of responsibility for the failure to save the mine from 
disaster through reef falls. The open pit working was not its 
design, but the inexperienced undertaking of a mass of diggers 
who could not be prevented from extracting the diamond-bear- 
ing ground in their own rude way. They scooped out the 
crater to a depth that made reef falls inevitable, and pushed on 
their cuts through the body of blue ground, in spite of all warn- 
ing falls and slides, long after it was apparent to any mining 
engineer that the open pit sinking could not be continued with 
safety to the workers or with profit to the owners. 

But it is impossible to approve the relief measures of the 
Mining Board. It could only check the reef falls at best, tem- 
porarily and partially, but it failed to do even this. It set up 
expensive hoisting machinery on the surface level at opposite 
ends of the mine, and sunk a large vertical shaft (Kendric shaft) 
in the reef at a point two hundred yards from the northeast edge 
of the crater, with the apparent intention of removing reef rock 
through this opening or determining the continuance of the blue 



ground by a drift to the crater below the pit bottom. The shaft 
was driven down to the depth of 286 feet, when a stratum of vol- 
canic rock was reached, so hard that the work was abandoned. 
No use whatever was made of this costly shaft, and no consid- 
erable attempt was made to cut back the dangerous reef wall. 
Even with the stinted means at the command of the Board, 
something might have been done to preserve the mine, and an 
energetic and well-directed push to this end would have com- 
manded at least the confidence and support of the more in- 
telligent claim-holders. So, when the caving of the reef cast 
enormous heaps of debris upon the claims in the pit, the lack of 
foresight of the Mining Board was discreditably apparent. The 
cost of removing the reef rock was then vastly increased, and 
the burden was the heavier because the reef falls prevented the 
extraction of the buried blue ground. 

Two of the larger companies, the French and the Central, 
holding claims in the mine, were the first to undertake the re- 
moval of the solid reef on any extensive scale, by sinking shafts, 
in 1878-1879, at points several hundred feet distant from the 

Pumping Engine in Kimberley Mine, 1875. 


north and south sides of the mine. By this means considerable 
reef was removed, and a third shaft was sunk in 1882 through 
the northeast reef border to check the imminent peril at that 
edge of the mine. To supplement the service of these shafts 
inclined tramways were opened on the west and east sides of 
the mine to cut back the upper reef walls, while wire tramways 
were stretched from the bottom of the mine to the surface edge 
to carry off the fallen reef in large tipping tubs, holding from 
1 6 to 32 cubic feet of broken rock. At the end of 1881 tram- 
ways, aggregating 19 miles in length, had been constructed by 

Incline Tramway for Hauling Reef, 1878. 

the claim-holders and the Mining Board. Steam pumping 
engines had been put in to pump out the influx of water, and 
this obstacle was, at last, easily overcome. To hasten and 
cheapen the extraction of blue ground, drilling and blasting were 
substituted for hand labor with picks, and the work of mining 
was pressed with incessant energy. But the sliding, falling reef 
mocked every effort to withstand it. 

The work of removal was undertaken too late. The reef 
slipped faster than the tram cars and tubs could haul it out. 
In 1878 more than a quarter of the surface of the claims in 
the mine was covered by fallen reef. The cost of removal, 
at the original allowance rate of 4^. per load of 16 cubic feet. 


south side;-, of the n\--> By this means considerable 

A.J^ removed, and a ' <i.ift was sunk in 1882 through 

theast reef" I : uc k the imminent peril at that 

>r rfv mine. ppinnent the service of these shafts 

hned n iinwuvs \*v opened on the west and east sides of 

mine . upper reef walls, while wire tramways 

! from r'K bottom of the mine to the surface edge 

:o carr M reel in i.trge tipping tubs, holding from 

broken imk. At the end of 1881 tram- 
wax - miles in len^li, had been constructed by 


and the Mining Board. Steam pumping 

put in to pump out the influx of water, and 

, ar last, easiK o\erconu. To hasten and 

ctiun offline ground, drilling and blasting were 

nd labor with picks and the work of mining 

MKessanr energy. But the sliding, falling reef 

-r- f to withstand it. 

emoval was undertaken too late. The reef 

'he (ram cars and tubs could haul it out. 

an :i cjiiarter of the surface of the claims in 

by fallen reef. The cost of removal, 

loua'i.e .i.~e of 4.1-. per load of 16 cubic feet," 



mounted so high that the Mining Board was constrained to cut 
down the allowance to is. 6d., but even with the rate reduced 
the expenditure for reef work and drainage in 1879 anc ^ 1880 
ran over ^15 0,000 a year, and in 1881 it rose to over ^200,000. 
Still, the need of stimulating extraordinary exertion was then so 
apparent that the rate was put up to 3^. 9^. a load in October, 
1 88 1, and for the eighteen months following fifty-six million 
cubic feet of broken reef were hauled away by the claim-holders 

Hauling Reef, Kimberley Mine, 1875. 

alone, at a cost to the Board of over ^6 50,000, without reckon- 
ing the amount extracted by the operation of its own tramways. 
This stupendous charge was obviously too heavy to be 
borne even by the richest diamond mine, and no assessment 
scheme could sustain it. The Board struggled for months 
under the load, issuing notes when it had no cash in hand ; but 
in March, 1883, its issue of outstanding notes or " reef-bills " was 
so great that its book showed a debit balance of over ^2 50,000, 
and the local banks would extend no further credit. The Board 
was bankrupt, reef extraction was stopped, perforce, and the 


claim-holders were face to face with an appalling situation ; for 
in spite of all efforts and the outflow of money like a water- 
spout, the resistless reef was unchecked. The mine walls con- 
tinued to fall in faster than they could be hauled out, and even 
central claims in the mine were buried. The gloomiest forebod- 
ings fell like a black cloud on the spirits of claim-holders. In 

the judgment of 
many observers, the 
great Kimberley dia- 
mond mine was 
doomed beyond hope 
of resurrection. 

The open pit had 
been sunk to the 
depth of something 
over four hundred 
feet, in the lowest 
working, at the end 
of the year 1882. In 
order to haul out one 
million loads of blue 
ground during that 
year, three million 
loads of reef had 
been raised. The 
cost of hauling was 
increasing with the 
deepening of the 
mine, and owing to the reef falls, the production of diamonds 
was disastrously sinking. In 1883 the lack of funds only per- 
mitted the lifting of one and a half million loads of reef at a cost 
of ^250,000, and the output of blue ground sunk to 350,000 
loads. In November of that year a long portended reef slide 
cast 250,000 cubic yards of shale upon the face of the pit, piling 
its mass on the claims half across the mine. This was seemingly 
a crushing infliction. It was, at least, a conclusive proof that 

Reef Falls, Kimberley Mine, 1881. 




open pit sinking was no longer feasible even for the richest 
claim-holders. About four million cubic yards of reef had been 
hauled at a cost of nearly ^2,000,000, yet there was no check 
to the reef falls and slides. At the close of the year the Inspec- 
tor of Mines reported 
that " only about fifty 
claims had been regularly 
worked during the past 
year." The field for the 
operation of individual 
claim-holders was deci- 
sively closed. The only 
hope for the mine was in 
the prosecution of deep 
and extensive under- 
ground works by the 
combination of claims in 
hands able to conduct 
such operations success- 

In advance of such 
an undertaking the yield 
of the mine was fortu- 
nately sustained by an 

The Central Company's Shaft, Kimberley Mine, 1885. eXDCTt makeshift .Mr 

Edward Jones, a trained mining engineer, had been one of the 
leading contractors fof the removal of reef, and had given close 
study to the problem of the continuance of the extraction of blue 
ground. Through his design and insistent confidence, in spite of 
all doubts and sneers, a shaft was sunk through the mass of fallen 
reef at the bottom of the deepest part of the mine by lowering a 
square timber frame and shovelling out the loose rock from the 
inside of the enclosure. The frame was constructed in sections on 
the plan of a coffer dam, adding section to section from the top until 
a stout timber shaft passed entirely through the broken shale and 
entered the underlying blue ground. The shaft was then read- 



ily extended, and drifts from this opening were made through 
the blue ground. The peculiar service of this device was its 
saving of hundreds of feet of costly shaft cutting through the 
solid reef to reach the blue ground a very desirable contribu- 
tion at a time when the richest claim-holders were sharply pinched 
by the failing mine and the discouragement of capital. The cost 
of all development work was defrayed by the blue ground 
extracted in opening the drifts and cross-cuts, so that there was 
no further delay in resuming operations in the mine. The first 
shaft had been sunk on the ground owned by the Central Com- 
pany, and it was soon copied by a number of similar shafts in 
other parts of the mine. This brought about a most welcome 

The Bottom of Kimberley Mine, 1885. 

revival of mining, and was so far highly beneficial to the labor- 
ers, claim-owners, and townspeople of Kimberley, though it was 
not designed for permanent service. 

While the blue ground was being removed through shafts 
sunk in the bottom of the open mine, it was apparent to all that 


the life of these shafts must be very short. Preparation was 
therefore made for future work by sinking shafts outside the 
margin of the open mine, and at sufficient distance from it to 
insure them against any probable caving of the surface ground 
in their vicinity. Vertical shafts were sunk by the Central and 
French companies, and tunnels driven from them. The plan 
of Kimberley mine, 1883, shows these tunnels. 

flpkfsm cnt Vafuohcn 
WTKrtcb tofatfst afotitonmcnt/ 

Before describing the subsequent application of engineering 
science to underground mining, it is desirable to trace the prog- 
ress of the other mines on the fields to the period in develop- 
ment reached by the leader. The claim-owners in De Beers 
mine profited greatly by the object lessons given in the opening 
of the great pit of Kimberley. For the first twelve years after 
the discovery of the mines, the Kimberley mine ran far ahead of 
the others from the superiority of its yield for some distance 
below the surface. The fatal error of the neglect of the claim- 



if these shaft-^ ir very short. Preparation was 

rrfore made for fin ->rk hy sinking shafts outside the 

.;rpn of the open ; , iud at sufficient distance from it to 
i;r(. ;he:n ai^.iin- ? *n\- probable caving of the surface ground 
thei icinitv tiii-;ai shafts were sunk hy the Central and 

reach cuinpanu-. unu tunnels driven from them. The plan 
K ; niber!r\ 'Mine, iS8}, shows these tunnels. 


& ^r 

Showing Shafts at the Bottom of the Open Mine 


v^S i 

by t 
r "eatly 
of K 

the subsequent application of engineering 
d mining, ir is *i Arable to trace the prog- 
es on the fields to the period in develop- 

v leader. The claim-owners in De Beers 
by the object, lessons gi\ r en in the opening 

imherlov. For the first twelve years after 

ines, the Kimberlev mine ran far ahead of 

-upu-i'>ntv of its yield for some distance 

r.ror of rhe r.cLjlfcr of the claim- 



C F 


2 47 

Reef Slips, Kimberley Mine, 1874. 

Kimberley Mine, showing how the Ground cracked before Subsidence. 


owners and Mining Board to cut back the mine walls was appar- 
ent in time to save many thousands of pounds to De Beers. 
This mine was also fortunate in the comparative hardness and 
stability of the basaltic rock stratum overlying the shale and 
forming the marginal top of its pit walls. By cutting back the 
reef in terraces, the De Beers Mining Board saved the mine 
from any serious rock falls for a con- siderable number of 
years. Only two hundred and fifteen thousand cubic yards 
of reef were removed in the five p/ST^ i years ending with 
1882, but this sufficed to /TpSPl protect the mine for 

the time. The cost of 

^76,000, a 

pared with 
^' berley 

its removal was only 
slight burden com- 
the charges at Kirn- 
mine, and showing a 

The Central Company's Atkins Shaft. 

cost per yard or per load of reef raised much less than the Kim- 
berley average. This was a signal demonstration of the advan- 
tage of prudently cutting away the reef before it fell into the pit 
and buried prolific claims and increased the hauling charges. 

This precaution, however, did not suffice to shield the mine 
from disaster when the pit was greatly deepened after the reef 
falls at Kimberley had diverted mining enterprise to De Beers. 
Over one hundred and forty thousand cubic yards of solid 
and broken reef were removed in 1883 and 1884, but reef slides 
were fast increasing, and it was judged necessary by the Min- 
ing Board to stop any further outlay for reef hauling when the 
mine bottom was 350 feet below the surface. The diamond- 
bearing ground had then been scooped out of the larger part of 



The Last of Open Working, Kimberley Mine, 1889. 400 feet deep. 

the funnel, but there was still a large area of yellow ground at 
the west end which had not yet been extracted because it con- 
tained so few diamonds compared with the other parts of the 
mine. The falls of reef had covered the eastern end of the 


mine, and early in 1885 the west end yellow ground caved in, 
and an enormous mass of nearly five million cubic feet fell in 
one day to the bottom of the mine, overlapping the fallen reef 
and burying the claims still open for work. This disastrous fall 
forced the stoppage of mining for six months until some part of 
the reef and yellow ground could be taken out, and mining was 
then resumed in a partial and half-hearted way in the open pit, 
though it was evident that further pit sinking in the face of such 

disasters was irrational mining. 

The only possible resource 
was the introduction of a system 
of underground mining, and the 
first attempt in this direction was 
made in 1884 by the opening of 
a large circular shaft at a point 
1000 feet from the north margin 
of the mine. This shaft was sunk 
vertically about 320 feet in the 
reef and then abandoned as too 
costly. In its place an incline 
was sunk, starting from a point 
about 150 feet from the west 
side of the claims, and entering 
the mine at the edge of the amyg- 
daloidal trap underlying the basalt 
and shale, so as to avoid the expense of cutting through this 
hard rock. This work was begun none too soon, for before the 
end of the year 1887 further open pit working was proved to 
be utterly impracticable, and was wholly abandoned when the 
deepest open digging had been carried in three years only fifty 
feet farther than the depth of 350 feet reached in 1884. 

Dutoitspan mine opening was practically the same as the 
course followed in Kimberley and De Beers. Owing to the com- 
parative poorness of the diamond-bearing ground, pit sinking 
was not pushed as rapidly as it was at Kimberley, and, in 1874, 
most of the miners went over to Kimberley and were glad of the 

R. D. Atkins. (Manager of Kimberley 
Mine in the earlier days.) 



No. 2 Incline Shaft, De Beers Mine. 

chance of working over the "waste ground" which had been 
cast away from the cradles and sieves of the early diggers. Two 
years later, when improved methods of handling the ground 
were coming into use, the miners flocked back to the abandoned 
ground and took out fresh claims. Warned by the experience 
of Kimberley, a circle of solid blue ground was left as a buttress 
against slides and falls of the encasing reef of shale, and for ten 
years this expedient served to shield the miners. 

But this safeguard failed when the open working had reached 
a few hundred feet in depth. Warning surface cracks had been 

Eldorado Road, Dutoitspan Mine, 1874. 


noticed on the northern margin of the mine, but the ardent 
diamond seekers kept on digging recklessly, until one day in 
March, 1886, when a huge mass of blue ground and reef broke 
away suddenly from the northern end of the mine and rolled 
over like the surge of a monstrous breaker, falling hundreds of 
feet with a fearful crash upon the doomed men at the bottom of 

Claims in Dutoiispan Mine. 

the pit. The loss of life would have been frightful, but happily 
for the miners the fall was at the noon dinner hour, when the 
work of hoisting blue ground was stopped and blasting in the 
mine was begun. Most of the workmen had left the mine, but 
eighteen poor fellows eight white men and ten Kafirs had 
taken shelter from the blasting in a pumping engine house in 
the pit. The avalanche of rock fell on the house, and every one 
in it was fatally crushed or scalded by the escaping steam. One 
hundred thousand cubic yards of shale and blue ground buried 
the claims on the pit bottom, and this fall was followed by others 
which ruined the open workings in 1887, when tne mme na d 
reached a depth of 400 feet. 

In Bultfontein there was only another variation of the same 
tale of open pit working and final wreck. The work of extract- 
ing the yellow and blue ground was well planned at the outset, 
under existing circumstances, by the cutting of inclined road- 
ways over which the ground was hauled in bullock carts. In 



-iorr : i. 

ot the mine, but the ardent 

a^mg recklessly, until one day in 

PI ass of blue ground and reef broke 

irtliern end uf the mine and rolled 

"monstrous breaker, falling hundreds of 

pnn the doomed men at the bottom of 



! irf.i!, but happily 

hour, when the 

vppe and blasting in the 

rLmen had left the mine, but 

e HI en anil ten Kafirs had 

a pum]>intr engine house in 

rhe liouse, and every one 

'he t-M aping steam. One 

ujt and i)!ue ground buried 

his tail \vas followed by others 

;n iSX-, when the mine had 

.re was oijU' Another variation of the same 

PL. ar..i ti.iai wr -ck. The work of extract- 

ue groun ( :\\ planned at the outset, 

stances, bv rhe rurtinyj of inclined road- 

'ro'ind was hauled in bullock carts. In 



1880 effective hauling machinery was substituted for the carts, 
and the precious ground was extracted so rapidly that the depth 
of about five hundred feet was reached in the open working, a 
point probably beyond any attained in the other pits. Here, 
too, as at De Beers, there was an effort to protect the mine by 
cutting back the reef in terraces ; but this safeguard was tried 
too late, and in any event it could only have deferred for a few 
years the fate of the mine. Before the close of the year 1889 
almost the whole of the pit bottom was covered with fallen reef 
and only four engines were at work hauling blue ground. 

The Extraction of the Diamonds 

While the sinking of the pits was progressing with improved 
mining appliances, there had been a considerable advance in the 
methods of concentrating the diamond-bearing ground and win- 

Bultfontein Mine, 1879. 

ning the diamonds. For the first three years after the opening 
of the mines, the handling of precious ground was exceedingly 
crude and wasteful. The broken ground taken from the craters 
was crushed more or less finely by pounding with shovels and 


mallets and clubs. Then it was sifted in rocking troughs, fitted 
with sieves like the placer miners' cradles, and the concentrate of 
pebbles and crystals and coarse rock grains was spread on tables, 
or sheets of iron and wood laid on the ground, where it was 
scraped over by hand, and the gems picked out. In this rough 
process a third and perhaps a half of the smaller crystals were left 
in the waste ground, and the losses from theft were enormous. 

In 1874 there was a change for the better in the introduc- 
tion of water in concentrating. By building dams and sinking 

The First Rotary Washing Machine. 

wells the water supply of the camp was increased materially, and 
it was possible to divert a portion for the diamond-washing 
appliances. Most of the early machines for this purpose were 
simple cradles with riffles or ridges set at intervals on the 
bottom, and a sieve at the end. The pulverized ground was 
dumped into a cradle with a sufficient flow of water to carry off 
the slime, while the rocking shook the ground, and caused a 
settling of the heavier mineral deposit at the bottom. With one 
of these rockers from six to thirteen cartloads of ground were 
washed in a day. Another device was a circular trough or pan, 



fitted with a revolving set of iron teeth like a comb, that stirred 
the ground and water and caused the settling of the concentrate. 

Another Early Washing Machine, 1874. 

This puddling trough would concentrate from twenty-five to 
thirty-five cartloads in a working day and cost at first, about 
^250, while the simpler cradle could be bought for ^15, or 
less. There were other more elaborate devices, but their cost 
put them out of the reach of the ordinary digger. All were 
based on one adaptation or another of the puddling principle, 
and the fall and separation of minerals of different specific 

The sorting of the concentrate from the 
puddling troughs was done by the same 
method employed after the dry sifting, 
but there was some improvement in the 

Horse-power Washing Machine, 1875. 





precautions against loss by theft. (The natives, who were com- 
monly employed in scraping and picking over the mineral de- 
posit, were more carefully watched. Some were lodged in tents 
and sheds adjoining the stables belonging to claim-owners, and 
there was some oversight of them by night as well as by day. 
When the claim-owners combined in companies, their workmen 
were frequently kept together in enclosures called "compounds," 
where they were furnished with food and shelter at moderate 
charges deducted from their pay. This sepa- 
ration and partial restriction was of undoubted 
service, not only in diminishing the oppor- 
tunities for successful theft and disposal 

Washing Gear, Bultfontein Mine. 

of stolen diamonds, but in checking the drunkenness of the black 
workmen and the outbreaks in the canteens and streets. 

Progress was made, too, though much too slowly, in the 
more perfect pulverization of the blue ground. It was soon 
observed that the broken ground would crumble upon exposure 
to the air, and after some weeks or months, according to its 
hardness, a mass of breccia, thinly spread out and raked over, 
would be very largely decomposed to fine sand fit for washing, 
without further treatment. This natural pulverization was far 
cheaper and better than crushing with mallets ; but the burden 
of accumulating and storing great quantities of ground was too 
heavy for the ordinary claim-holder, who was dependent upon 
quick returns : so only the larger companies maintained stores 



of ground on their depositing places or " floors," and none of 
these, even, were disposed to wait for the adequate pulverization 
of the ground by the natural agencies of the sun, air, and rain. 
Still the floors were gradually enlarged on the veld, and were 
frequently fenced in with wire. Year by year an increasing 
proportion of blue ground was pulverized. The average yield 
of a truck load, or sixteen cubic feet of blue ground, from Kim- 

steam Washing Gear, Kimberley Mine. 

berley mine, was computed to be one carat in diamonds, a valu- 
ation ranging from twenty-eight to thirty-six shillings, according 
to prevailing market rates. 

The mining camps changed, year by year, more completely 
to the appearance of thriving mining towns. De Beers fused 
with De Beers New Rush in the town of Kimberley, while 
the town of Dutoitspan rose on its camp site two miles away. 
The connecting roadway was lined with straggling houses. 
There was little available timber fit for building purposes, but 
galvanized iron was very largely substituted for the canvas tents 
during the first ten years, and, from 1880 on, many brick build- 
ings were erected at Kimberley. Outside of the main business 
street there was little attempt at first, to lay out regular avenues, 


and the diggers shifted their tents or " tin houses " to any 
vacant place that suited their fancy. The little galvanized iron 
buildings were so light and strongly riveted that they could be 
picked up and carried away by a few strong Kafirs. But with 

Webb's Washing Machine, 1878. 

the growth of the towns stands became more valuable, and title 
and possession were more sharply looked after. In 1876 the 
valuation of the town of Kimberley for assessment or taxation 
purposes was $5,151,500. Churches, schools, banks, hotels, 
theatres, concert rooms, and stores and offices of various kinds 
were erected to answer the demands of a prospering mining town. 
Sidewalks were laid along the principal streets, and after 1874 
there was a regular appropriation for street watering. The 
houses grew in size and stability. Verandas and porticoes were 
added in place of the roof projections that gave a little shade to 
the early diggers, and many of the dwellings were set with a 
fringe of garden in front or on the sides, in which fruit trees and 
vines and choice flowers were planted. 

With the advance of the diggings in depth, the combination 


of claims, and the ending of widespread prospecting, the influx of 
whites to the camps fell off greatly. The shifting population 
of prospectors dropped to the number that could find employ- 
ment in the mines or in the dependent towns. It was estimated 
in 1876 that the white population of Kimberley was about eight 
thousand, and the native from twelve to fifteen thousand. In 
Dutoitspan and Bultfontein there were perhaps six thousand 
more of whites and blacks. 

The character of this population has been most absurdly 
decried. " The Diamond Fields of South Africa," writes one 
flighty reporter, " have been hot-beds of rowdyism. The liber- 
tines, forgers, bird-catchers, and other outcasts of Europe have 
found a refuge there as in Alsatia of old. The Houndsditch Tew 

o / 

and the London rough reign supreme." Thousands of wit- 
nesses might be summoned, if necessary, to refute this nonsense. 
Libertines and forgers drift elsewhere for prey than to hot, dusty 

Cape of Good Hope Company's Washing Gear, 1878. 

mining camps in the midst of the karroo ; though dainty folk 
might shrink from the roughness and grime of the diamond dig- 
gings, and weak nerves might be shaken by the boisterous exu- 
berance of the bustling camp, the restless crowd tramping the 
streets, the uproarious canteens and music halls, and the capers 


of motley diggers and wild Africans. Liquor drinking ran to 
excess, as it always does in a prosperous mining camp, and the 
natives especially were given to drunkenness ; but the wildest 
sprees rarely threatened danger to life, for the hot spirits were 
blown off in yells, chants, and dances. Every accurate record 
shows that murder and robbery and the more flagrant and brutal 
crimes were notably rare compared with the showing of the early 
American and Australian mining camps ; and when the turbu- 
lence of the rush was over, and the bubbling camps simmered 
down to the comparative order and steadiness of the working 

Washing Gear, Dutoitspan Mine. 

mining towns, there was little disturbance from any outbreak 
of ruffianism. In spite of all demoralizing influences, the con- 
servative and civilizing agencies and public spirit that advance 
communities and exalt good citizenship gained in force year by 
year on the Diamond Fields. 

Notable progress was made in the provisions for the health 
and security of the towns. The most crying need, from the 
first, had been pure and abundant water. The average rainfall 
of the mining field was only 17.5 inches, and the suffering from 
the lack of water in the dry season was scarcely endurable. 
Much was done to improve and increase the supply by the sink- 
ing of wells and extension of natural reservoirs and the more 



general introduction of filtering appliances. Dr. Morton noted 
in 1876 a marked advance in the health of the population on 
the Fields. The death rate at Kimberley, he said, was exceed- 
ingly small. The most sickly months of the year were August 
and January, marking the effect of the extremes of cold and 
heat. Outside of the ailments incident to the dust and exposure 
and sudden variations of temperature, there was little disease, 
and he particularly observed the complete immunity of the 
field from hydrophobia, though every man, woman, and child 
appeared to have a dog at their heels. 

Washing Gear, Bultfontein Mine, 1878. 

It was soon perceived, however, that a more certain and 
sufficient supply of water must be obtained to meet the growing 
demands of the towns and mines. This was secured through 
the enterprise of the men associated in the Kimberley Water 
Works Company, by the construction of a pumping station at 
Riverton on the Vaal River and the laying of a main sixteen 
miles in length to a reservoir on a ridge of the Bultfontein 
farm, near Kimberley. The water from the river was raised in 
three stages by powerful compound condensing engines, and car- 
ried to the large reservoir on the ridge, five hundred feet above 


the river level. From this reservoir it was distributed by a pipe 
and hydrant system to the towns and the mines. Since the 
construction of this fine plant, the towns have been supplied with 
filtered water at a cost of is. per 100 gallons ; and mines using 
great quantities have a concession materially lowering this rate. 
The amount of water sold to Kimberley annually has run as 
high as 230,000,000 gallons and more than 300,000,000 have 
been supplied to the mines. The cost of the machinery and plant 
was over ^300,000. Mr. E. A. Cowper, the consulting engi- 
neer of the Water Works Company, designed the machinery, and 
Mr. George Buchanan, C.E., was the constructing engineer in 
the erection of the plant. 

The maintenance of peace and order on the Diamond Fields 
was helped forward materially by the construction of " com- 
pounds," providing good lodging and food for the natives, check- 
ing their drunkenness, promoting steady industry, and enforcing 
restrictions essential to the common security. The police force 
of the towns was from the start so small that the tolera- 
tion of this condition attests the comparative rarity of brutal 
crimes on the Fields. Its very marked improvement with the 
growth of the town, in later years, was rather due to the rising 
demand for advance in every civic and social condition than to 
any increase in disorderly conduct or the commission of crimes. 

Diamond stealing and illicit diamond buying were, beyond 
all question, the worst plague of the camps and towns. Outside 
of this line of operation there was practically no opening and no 
temptation for the professional thief and receiver of stolen goods; 
but the opportunities were unfortunately too apparent and easy 
for filching and disposing of diamonds. The sharpest oversight 
could scarcely prevent nimble-fingered workers from slyly secret- 
ing tiny crystals in picking over the concentrates on the sorting 
tables or in handling the deposit in the rockers and puddling pans. 
While the natives were allowed to rove about freely after their 
day's work was done, they had little difficulty in transferring the 
diamonds to the hands of the sharpers, who were always in wait 
for the chance of buying stolen stones for little money. 


Offices were opened by diamond buyers in the mining towns, 
either as independent merchants or as representatives of large, 
foreign wholesale dealers and diamond cutters, and besides these 
established purchasers, there were a number of traders who made 
regular rounds through the diggings, buying from claim-owners 
in their tents or houses or at the sorting table. These peripa- 
tetic dealers were familiarly known as " kopje wallopers," for 
kopjes were the sites of the chief surface digging. No doubt 
there were dishonest men among these dealers, small and large ; 
for the frequent temptations were too strong for slight scruples, 
and it is certain also that many diamonds were bought under 
cover by saloon and shop keepers and other speculative traders 
who came into familiar contact with the diggers. 

It is plain that it was impossible to trace or identify a stolen 
diamond, even when the theft was known, and great quantities 
of gems were secretly bought and carried to the coast towns 
for sale or forwarded stealthily to foreign markets. It has been 
estimated that fully fifty per cent of the diamonds taken from 
the diggings in the early years were secreted and sold specula- 
tively. This is undoubtedly an extravagant reckoning, but 
there is no question that a large percentage were filched away. 

To give some idea of the enormous quantity of diamonds 
that were stolen in the early days of the fields, and before the 
compound system was adopted, the following notice is repro- 
duced : 


The undermentioned rough and uncut diamonds having from time 
to time been recovered by this Department, notice is hereby given to all 
whom it may concern, that unless proof of the bona fide right to the 
possession of such diamonds be given, or a proper permit for the same 
be produced within ten days from the date hereof, such diamonds will be 
sold and the proceeds of such sale carried to the account of the Govern- 


Chief of Detective Department of Griqualand West. 
MAY 24th, 1883. 


Underneath the notice was a schedule showing - 
The number of carats. From whom recovered. How acquired. 

The number of carats ranged from half a carat to 6375 
carats, which were found in the possession of one man. The 
total number reached 8443 carats, which were recovered from 
fifty persons. Two days later a similar notice appeared stating 
that 1573^ carats had been recovered, having been found in the 
possession of a well-known dealer in illicit diamonds. The 
total value of these two lots would amount to ,30,000 or 

The practice of illicit diamond buying was so persistent and 
obnoxious that it was curtly styled I. D. B., and the strictest 
possible regulations were made to check it and punish offenders. 
A Special Court was established in 1880 ! to try cases of this kind, 
and a special police force formed with warrant to make the most 
rigorous search of suspected thieves and receivers. Under the 
Diamond Trade Act every parcel of diamonds taken from the 
Fields must be formally described and registered, and every 
transfer recorded from the date of discovery till the final ship- 
ment from the Cape Colony. No person was permitted to deal 
in diamonds unless he held a formal license, and his record books 
of purchase and sale were always open to police inspection. 
Thefts of diamonds and illicit purchasers were punished with all 
possible rigor. 

1 A Special Court was established under ordinance No. 8 of 1880. A barrister 
was appointed as Special Magistrate to act with the Resident Magistrate and the 
Additional Resident Magistrate. Under Act No. 48 of 1882 the Special Court for 
mining offences consisted of three persons, of whom at least one was a judge of the 
Supreme Court. The other two were usually the Resident Magistrate and the Civil 
Commissioner. By proclamation No. 144, dated September I, 1882, the districts 
of Kimberley, Herbert, Hay, and Barkly were within the jurisdiction of the Special 
Court. Act No. 34 of 1888 provided that the Special Court should consist of three 
members, two of whom must be judges of the Supreme Court. Persons convicted 
by the Special Court might appeal to the Supreme Court. 



N the rush of adventurers over the Diamond 
Fields the individual was inevitably merged in 
the mass. He might feel the pulse of latent 
powers, the unslaked thirst of ambition, but 
he must be for the time no more than a drop 
of water in the rapid, a locust in the swarm. 
He was one of a myriad which exulted in the enforced equality 
of living and opportunity. 

There can scarcely be a purer democracy than an infant 
camp in such a field. Imperial sovereignty or feeble state asser- 
tion barely cast a shadow of authority over the stretch of " No 
Man's Land," the chrysalis of the Colony of Griqualand West. 
One man here was as good as another in his own mind, and free 
to maintain it. In the seething stream of humanity that poured 
into the Diamond Fields it mattered not whether one was to the 
manor born or cradled in a manger, the son of a peer or a beg- 
gar's brat. In the hot scramble for diamonds in the dirt, all 
ranks were levelled. The rough sailor jostled the captain, the 
university graduate swung his pick side by side with the navvy, 
and the last of the Vere de Veres snored in his sheepskin kaross 
back to back with a hopeless Japhet. The representative 
"Diggers' Committee" was merely the executive hand of the 
body of prospectors, the instrument of the will of the masses. 
The distribution of the diamond beds from the start marked 
the strain for equality, the hostility to aggrandizement ; and the 
relation of demand to supply compelled the division into little 
patches of holdings. It was years before the acquisition of more 
than two claims by one person was tolerated, and only imperious 



necessity forced the further consolidation of claims when the 
mines had reached a depth that made patch-working impracticable. 
In this mass movement and equalizing of opportunity, the 
rise and display of strong individuality were necessarily subdued 
and slow to appear. In the years of the rush and the early 
advance of the mines, it is the life of the mass and not of the 
fractional unit that makes the history of the Fields. But with 
changing conditions, as the years rolled on, the way was opened 
for individual assertion, influence, and distinction. Then the 
men, hitherto unmarked, stood up preeminent. Then the brains 
that were capable of great conceptions and great performances 
found pressing occasion for all their foresight and energy. The 
history of the great mines that have explored the diamond-bear- 
ing craters so far beyond the pitfalls of the prospecting diggers 
is very essentially a story of remarkable men. 

In July, 1873, a young Hebrew, Barnett Isaacs, took passage 
from England to Cape Town at the call of his brother from the 

new Diamond Fields. His 
grandfather was a learned and 
honored rabbi, and the good 
standing of his family was 
marked by the marriage of 
his father, Isaac Isaacs, to a 
relative of Sir George Jessels, 
Master of the Rolls. But the 
son of the rabbi was only a 
small, plodding, frugal shop- 
keeper in London. His sons, 
Henry and Barnett, were 
trained in the excellent He- 
brew Free School in Spital- 
fields,but both boys left school 
at the age of fourteen to help their father in his shop. Henry 
was drawn away in the current of the early rush to the Diamond 
Fields in 1871, and had such success as a kopje walloper that he 
wrote home to urge his brother to join him. 

Barnett Isaacs. 


To the restless spirit and purely speculative mind of Barnett 
Isaacs there was magnetic attraction in such a field with its 
novel and gleaming opportunities. With instant decision he 
took the steamer for Cape Town, and made the tiresome trip 
over veld and karoo to Kimberley with unfailing pluck and 
good temper. 

He was only twenty years old, and outwardly no more than 
a light-hearted boy, bubbling over with high spirits and comical 
conceits. But his fondness for athletic sports, theatrical extrava- 
ganzas, and practical jokes, and his contempt for conventional 
restraints, were merely the surface froth covering invincible 
energy and facile grasp of opportunities. He had an unshak- 
able self-reliance, a quick perception, and a fertile resourceful- 
ness that bore him up when feebler men sank. One could 
scarcely cast him in any society or any place on earth, where his 
nimble wits would not win him a living. 

The impulse to go ahead was in his blood. " It has always 
been a superstition with me," he said, " never to turn back." 
He grew apace with the calls upon his powers. He did not pro- 
fess to know more than he knew, but he was never content to 
know anything that interested him by report. " I must look 
into everything that concerns me for myself." This determina- 
tion was a safeguard. He once boasted, in a rare fit of parade, 
that he had never made a mistake in his investment of money 
in his life. But his incessant activity was fatally wearing. He 
could not dawdle. He could hardly rest. For many years his 
extraordinary vitality and endurance kept him running. He 
had the precious faculty of dropping off to sleep at any moment 
of relaxation, and awaking after slumbering for a few moments. 
Nevertheless no creature of flesh and blood could endure the 
strain which he bore and recklessly courted. " Some day such 
a bundle of quivering nerves must snap, either life or brain must 
go," said one of his closest friends. But when young Barnett 
Isaacs wandered into Dutoitspan, " fit for anything," as he him- 
self declared, after his long tramp and meals of porridge and 
biltong, nobody saw in him the raw material of one of the 


remarkable financiers of the century, or forecast, even dimly, the 
meteoric career of Barney Barnato. 

His brother Henry had fancied and taken the name of Bar- 
nato, as a professional shift from his own family name, when he 
first came to the Diamond Fields and tried his luck first as a 
conjurer and vaudeville performer, relying upon the sleight of 
hand proficiency which he had gained in boyish practice to 
amuse his friends. Henry soon turned his hand to the more 
profitable business of a diamond trader, but his stage name stuck 
to him, and passed naturally to his younger brother, who accepted 
it with easy indifference. So young Barnett Isaacs became 
familiarly known as " Barney Barnato," and for the first year 
or two of his life on the Diamond Fields floated along in the 
current as " Harry Barnato's brother." But his head never 
sank below the surface for a moment. His first buoy was 
a cigar box. He had money enough to buy sixty boxes of 
cigars after paying his way to Kimberley. With this working 
capital he went into partnership with Louis Cohen, another new- 
comer, who had started as a kopje walloper. The two young 
Hebrews picked out a shanty to their liking for an office. It 
was a little tin shed, eight feet by six, owned by an Irishman 
who offered it for rent at a guinea a day. 

" That is ridiculous," said Cohen. 

"I don't know that," said Barnato. "The situation is good, 
why not pay a guinea a day if you can make thirty shillings ? " 

This keen measuring was typical. Barney Barnato never 
counted cost alone if he wanted anything, but weighed it instantly 
against probable profit. He was never a thoughtless or reckless 
buyer. He did not shut his eyes to the risks of loss. On the 
contrary, he reckoned risks with exceptional accuracy and pre- 
cision of detail, but he reckoned profits with the same even- 
balanced judgment. Hence he was not afraid to venture when 
others shrank back. He was naturally sanguine. He had faith 
in himself, and put all his working force into everything that he 
undertook. So his high-pressure energy, persistently maintained, 
won success where a weaker and idler man would have failed. 


There was no peculiar luck in his favor. Thousands around 
him had equal chances or better. He went to the front because 
he had the brains to choose aright and the working powers to 
make his choice profitable. He made mistakes as men of his 
sanguine temper must, but he did not make many mistakes, and 
no fatal or even greatly damaging ones. 

There is no business without risks. The most prudent man 
cannot engage in mining or in trading in mineral products with- 
out risks. If hot-headed speculation has swamped fortunes in 
such a field, it is no less certain that overstrained caution has 
failed to win anything memorable. There is a happy and rare 
mean of sagacious judgment in mining operations, and Barney 
Barnato proved his possession of such judgment incontestably. 
His mind worked so quickly, and his mental calculations were 
so exact and minute, that it was often supposed that he jumped 
at conclusions. " Barnato's snap judgment," sneered a man 
whom he outbid in competition ; " Barnato's sheer luck," 
growled the man who saw his judgment turn to gold. 

The young partners, Barnato and Cohen, worked hard, early 
and late. Barnato's keen eye gained a valuable business con- 
nection in a way that suggests his kinship to Sherlock Holmes. 

One of the most successful " kopje wallopers " (a name given 
to men who visited the various miners' huts for the purpose of 
buying diamonds) made regular rounds through the diamond 
fields on an old, lame, yellow pony, calling on men who had 
the best bargains in diamonds to offer. Barnato and Cohen 
tried repeatedly to follow him, but his track was soon lost in 
the labyrinth of tents, huts, and sand heaps. However, Barnato 
was able to see that the trader's pony had the habit of stopping 
at places where choice bargains were made, and when the broken- 
down beast was offered for sale one day by its owner, Barnato 
snapped at the chance to buy him for ^27 IQJ., an enormous 
price for the old pony as a steed, but a great bargain for the 
keen diamond broker, for the walloper's business went with his 
pony, as he afterward saw to his chagrin. 

Soon Barnato became known as a " walloping walloper," 


and in the third year of his push into the Fields he was able 
to crown a new ambition by the purchase of a block of four 
claims in one of the best-paying sections of the Kimberley mine. 
His savings were then about ^3000, and he put nearly every 
pound he was worth into his purchase. His seemingly risky 
investment was quickly justified by the yield of his claims. 
With the help of this great investment he came swiftly into 
prominence. Entering into partnership with his brother, he 

established the firm of Bar- 
nato Brothers in 1880, as a 
London and Kimberley firm 
of diamond dealers and brok- 
ers in mining properties, and 
crowned a further ambition 
by combining his own claims 
with adjoining holdings in his 
first mining stock organiza- 
tion, " The Barnato Diamond 
Mining Company." 

He was one of many 
quick-sighted and resourceful 
men who perceived that the 
day for any profitable work- 
ing of individual claims had 
passed, while the body of 
miners was still struggling 
c. j. Rhodes, when a student at Oxford. along blindly in the great cav- 
ing chasms. He brought about a highly desirable amalgamation 
of the claims which he controlled with those of the Standard 
Company, one of the strongest organizations in the Kimberley 
Mines, and later these claims were amalgamated with the hold- 
ings of the Kimberley Central Company, in which he became a 
large shareholder. It was at this stage in his fortunes that he 
came into keen rivalry with the only competitor that could make 
headway successfully against him, Cecil John Rhodes. 

There was a singular likeness in some respects in the careers, 

tic was able 
block of four 
Kimberley mine. 
put nearly every 
- seemingly risky 
id of his claims. 
ic i came swiftly into 
virh his brother, he 
i the firm of Bar- 
ters in 1880, as a 
tnd Kimberley firm 
<>nd dealers and brok- 
.mirig properties, and 
i further ambition 
";mng his own claims 
: K.uning holdings in his 
;:ing stock organiza- 


<. ompany." 
was one of many 
sighted and resourceful 
\ho perceived that the 
.lav for any profitable work- 
< -t individual claims had 
while the body of 
v ( as still struggling 
ti- nelly in the great cav- 
desirable amalgamation 
>->e of the Standard 
'is in the Kimberley 
:<!.-.. rmted with the hold- 
in which he became a 
in his fortunes that he 
-'pe'itor that could make 
i John Rhodes. 
;IIH' respects in the careers, 


conceptions, and calculations of these extraordinary men, although 
they were so markedly dissimilar in personal appearance and 
temperament. Cecil John Rhodes was the fifth son of a Hert- 
fordshire clergyman and came to South Africa as a sickly boy 
of seventeen, arriving in Durban, September i, 1870, in the first 
flush of the diamond fever, to join his eldest brother Herbert 
on a small cotton plantation in Natal. Early in 1871 Herbert 
Rhodes, leaving his brother in charge of the plantation, joined 
the great rush to the New Diamond Fields. Cecil Rhodes 
followed a few months later, and arrived on the Fields in June. 
The raw, dusty Diamond Fields were apparently one of the spots 
least likely to attract a youth whose health had broken down, and 
whose tastes were bent from early childhood toward a scholar's 
life in the cloisters of a university appealing to every high 
imagination in its memorials of every age since the dawn of 
letters in Britain. So indeed it seemed when young Rhodes 
turned his back on the glitter of the new mines and returned 
to England. 

His name had been entered on the rolls of Oriel College, 
Oxford, before his departure for South Africa. Rhodes passed 
the matriculation examination during October, 1873. But the 
following year saw his return to Kimberley, because of a lung 
fever that threatened his life, and made the shift from misty 
England to the mild clear air of the high veld an imperative 
prescription. Shortly after his return Herbert Rhodes left the 
Diamond Fields to follow the more congenial life of an explorer 
and hunter in the interior of Africa, where he was burned to 
death in September, 1879, while sleeping in a grass hut which 
took light from the camp fire. 1 

Another brother, Francis W. Rhodes (Col. Frank Rhodes, 
the distinguished soldier), joined his brothers for a short time. 

I have been able, through the kindness of Mr. J. Dick- 
Lauder, one of the early diggers on the Fields, to reproduce 
some old photographs depicting the early camp life at De 
Beers and showing Cecil Rhodes and others sorting the yellow 

1 " Cecil Rhodes," by Howard Hensman, 1901. 


ground for diamonds. See illustration between pages 274 
and 275. 

So unknown to each other and blind to their future clash 
and union, Cecil John Rhodes, the clergyman's son, and Barney 
Barnato, the London shopboy, started abreast in the race for 
fortune on the same track. An ordinary observer of the two 
young men would probably have picked Barnato as the winner 
on such a track as the new Diamond Fields. Any one could see 
at a glance that the young Hebrew was unsinkable, and pecul- 
iarly fitted to make a good living in the stirring towns by his 
business training, quick wit, and racial genius for trade, while 
the English college student had no apparent fitting for success 
either as a digger or a business man. Kipling has told of the 
straining of the new ship, as a living thing, in the trial to find 
herself, and this fine conception has literal truth in the applica- 
tion to young manhood. So Cecil John Rhodes was forced to 
find himself, as he did, when he put away his books to plunge 
into the whirling life of the Great White Camps. 

Tall, gaunt, shy, the stripling sat at the diamond sorting 
table, overseeing the Kafirs who scraped over the pebbles from 
his brother's claim, on a little " floor " near the edge of the big 
Kimberley pit. Roughly dressed, coated with dust, disdainful 
of any foppish touch, peculiarly self-contained, full of novel ideas 
and aspirations rising, turning, and shaping themselves in his 
mind, he was not one to mingle, like Barnato, in every stir 
of the froth in the camps, or ready to jump, like the London 
shopboy, into any gush of speculation, from a bet at cards to an 
auction sale. Externally the two young men could scarcely be 
more unlike than the little, chunky, bullet-headed, near-sighted, 
mercurial Hebrew, taking a hand in current sport or traffic, and 
the tall, thoughtful, young overseer, sitting moodily on a bucket, 
deaf to the chatter and rattle about him, and fixing his blue eyes 
intently on his work, or on some fabric of his brain. 

Yet both were alike in their expanding ambition and power 
to grapple and mould in their distinctive ways the opportunities 
about them. Both had keen foresight, and extraordinary com- 

.no g; 


ground for JUKI illustration bti*een pages 274 

arui 275. 

/ier and blind ro their future clash 

and union, > ie% the clergyman's son, and Barney 

Barrnr > .'.opboy, started abreast in the race for 

An ordinary observer of the two 

:>abiv have picked Barnato as the winner 

evv Diamond { it-ids. Any one could see 

at a t tha: ;he young Hebrc - uas unsinkable, and pecul- 

r in rhe stirring towns by his 
.ui! genius for trade, while 
ue studt-ir > apparent fitting for success 

in. UK Kipling has told of the 
:-ig thing, in the trial to find literal truth in the applica- 
From Left to Righthn Rhodes was forced to 
J. Dick Lauder, shovelling. Frank ^od^soglng , 

N. Garstin, screening. , v , -Dr. Atherstone, looking dn. 

Herbert Rhodes, screening. Cecil Rhodes, sorting. 

Macleod, sorting. ' Nesfcit.ibrtiri^ 1111 

; f rs wiu> sci aped over the pebbles from 

'i-tlc " floor" near rhe edge of the big 
dressed, coated with dust, disdainful 
/Marly self-contained, full of novel ideas 
.lining, and shaping themselves in his 
> mingle, like Harnato, in every stir 
ivady to jump, like the London 
culation, from a. bet at cards to an 
oung men could scarcely be 
-headed, near-sighted, 
\.rj-cnr sport or traffic, and 
oversee moodily on a bucket, 

, and fixing his blue eyes 
>n some hNnc of I; is brain. 

uiing ambition and power 

p and ;^!i!.. -. their disti.'.^n . e ways the opportunities 

: foresight, and extraordinary com- 


N. Garstin. 
Cecil Rhodes. 
Frank Rhodes. 

From Left to Right. 


Herbert Rhodes. 
Dr. Atherstone. 

Up the Trie. 

]. Dick Lauder. 

prehension of g; 

essential poi uracy 

and punctur; Wi 

same end of _ 

making, of u; 

of proving to the 


throw the s 
Dark Contin 



Silver Trees. (These trees grow only on the slopes of Table Mountain.) 

prehension of great financial undertakings. Both had, too, the 
essential poise and accuracy of judgment that shuns pitfalls 
and punctures illusions. With variant motives they sought the 
same end of great riches : one for the sheer satisfaction of money 
making, of unfolding great schemes of production and flotation, 
of proving to the world that he was a master of finance ; the 
other chiefly as a means to reach ends of Imperial scope, to 
throw the searchlights of civilization into every cranny of the 
Dark Continent, to lift the prodigious dead weight of unnumbered 


bygone ages of barbarism, to make the waste lands fruitful and 
open the arteries of traffic, to create a Greater Britain than the 
most daring fancy before him had conceived, and stretch the 
hand of his Queen over a realm transcending the farthest sweep 
of the Macedonian or the Roman. 

Both realized very keenly the practical necessity of effecting 
combinations of the claims covering the diamond mines in order 
to provide a uniform and efficient development and to secure 
a scarcely less essential control of the diamond output. The 
patent collapse of the open pit mining forced the undertaking 
of underground works, and compelled the further consolidation 

of holdings ; but 
for too many years 
there was no com- 
mon realization of 
the urgent need of 
the systematic de- 
velopment of the 
mines as a united 
property, and not 
as a complex col- 
lection of discord- 

A Cape Cart. an t parts. The 

working of the parts was at best cramped and conflicting. The 
prosecution of any well-designed plan was heavily handicapped 
by the lack of cooperation in adjoining properties. 

This was sharply etched in by Barnato after Rhodes had 
successfully pressed the amalgamation of the variant interests. 
" I think I can prove to you, gentlemen," he said, in addressing 
a shareholders' meeting in 1889, "that in order to work the 
underground system, you must have the mines intact. You all 
remember the trouble and friction that took place when the De 
Beers mine was being worked by the De Beers Company, the 
Victoria, the Oriental, the Elma, the Gem, and others. Why 
was the underground system not a success in this case ? Because 
one company was working against another; that is to say, if one 













let-ten "A" lo "H" nTe been substituted 
for names on plan for lack of space. 









Claims in black belonged 
to W. A. Hall. 

iHtiuvu ir ipmir * eo., N.T 

on-.-- -,r >. aoo;/ A 

r-ssf 38 * 53 



i,f- i :i.i < ?T. : 

-5*. ;" '"!. Wi f- 



company was on the five hundred feet level, the opposing com- 
panies could go and eat into each other's boundary walls and 
pillars to such a dangerous extent that the entire mine was in 
a condition which threatened collapse at any moment." 

This was so patently true, and more particularly in Kimber- 
ley mine, that it may seem surprising that the disastrous conflict 
was so long maintained. But it must be borne in mind that 
the average shareholder was not as quick to see and prompt to 
move for a remedy as Rhodes, and comparatively few had his 
intimate and comprehensive knowledge of the condition of all 
the mines in the Fields. A very large proportion of the investors 
in these mines were men who had never been on the Fields at all, 
or whose acquaintance was limited to a sightseer's visit. Many, 
too, had bought shares simply as a gamble in the stock market, 
and only welcomed such information or reports as were calculated 
to boom their speculations. 

It was obviously labor lost to attempt to interest such men 
in any far-reaching plan for the union and systematic develop- 
ment of all the mining claims in the craters, and most of them 
would have sneered it away as a mere chimera if it had been laid 
before them. This was indeed a project which might well have 
appalled an ordinary man, even if he had the clear sight and 
comprehension of the position essential to a true judgment. 
Anybody might dream of such a gigantic combination, and some 
day-dreamer might babble about it to his gossips, but what man, 
or association of men, would have the foresight and patience, the 
perseverance and tact, the integrity and fulness of talent, to push 
forward toward it for years, to thrust aside or crush blocks in 
the way, to harmonize discordant and jealous interests, to open 
the eyes of narrow-sighted selfishness, to win the confidence of 
the distrustful, to design a scheme of union that would make all 
holders of good working claims common shareholders on a basis 
of equity and assured profit to all, and finally to provide the 
enormous capital necessary for the consummation of the scheme, 
and the development of the great diamond mines in a really 
great way ? 


Here was a task of such tremendous magnitude and difficulty 
that men of good ordinary judgment might well question its 
feasibility. What man in or out of the Fields would dare attempt 
it ? Who could do it, if he dared to venture ? There is a mighty 
fillip to the conceit of man, that in such great exigencies as these 
in times when some prodigious undertaking is imperatively 
needed the man or men who can carry it on to completion 
are almost always forthcoming. " Nothing is impossible nowa- 
days," said the " Bonanza King," Flood, when doubts were 
raised of the practicability of piping water from the Sierra 
Nevada Mountains to the Comstock Silver Mines on the 
Virginia range ; " the only question is, will it pay ? " That 
seems, indeed, the only touchstone which men of such pith and 
temper are disposed to apply to any object. It was again made 
evident on South African Diamond Fields how far the possible 
stretches when men with Flood's touchstone are the adven- 
turers. The moving men, who could comprehend the need for 
union and effect it, came irresistibly to the front in the Fields. 

The undertaking to which they set their hands should be 
clearly set forth. In spite of the ruin of the open mine work- 
ings in the competing development scramble, and in spite of the 
continuing conflict and recurrent disasters in the underground 
mining so cogently enforcing the call for union, there were 
still, at the end of 1885, no less than ninety-eight separate hold- 
ings in the four mines. In Kimberley mine there were eleven 
companies and eight private holdings ; in De Beers there were 
seven companies and three private holdings ; in Dutoitspan, six- 
teen companies and twenty-one private holdings ; in Bultfontein, 
eight companies and twenty-four private holdings. Thus the four 
mines were operated by a total of forty-two companies and fifty- 
six private firms or persons, all clashing within a surface area 
of 70 acres. The original location claims, aggregating 3600, 
had been united to this extent, merely, at the close of fourteen 
years of mining on the helter-skelter plan. 

It is hardly just to credit Rhodes and Barney Barnato with 
an equal perception of the imperative call for the union of all 



Mr. C. D. Rudd. 

the discordant interests in the diamond mines. Each reached 

the conclusion that it was no longer possible to continue to 

work the mines divided into small 

holdings which were controlled by 

men antagonistic to one another. 

Rhodes's interests were mostly in 

De Beers mine, and Barnato's 

largely in the Kimberley mine. In 

the same year, 1880, in which Bar- 

nato floated successfully his first 

diamond-mining corporation, "The 

Barnato Mining Company," con- 
sisting of a few claims in a rich 

section of the Kimberley mine, 

Rhodes and others founded the De Beers Mining Company, 

on the contiguous diamond-bearing crater. 

It is of interest in this connection to trace the origin of De 

Beers Mining Company through 
the early years of De Beers mine. 
In 1 873 Rhodes united his claims 
in De Beers mine with those of 
C. D. Rudd, and they slowly in- 
creased their holdings. Robert 
Graham joined them in 1874, 
and later Runchman, Hoskyns 
& Puzey took part with them in 
the purchase of Baxter's holdings. 
This combination, in addition to 
mining their own ground, took 
pumping contracts to drain the 
mine. Besides the above combi- 
nation there were other competi- 
tors for the purchase of claims, 
such as Dunsmure & Alderson, 

Stow & English, and these three firms gradually acquired all the 

best ground in De Beers mine except the Elma Company, owned 

Mr. Robert English. 


by Thomas Shiels and others, the Victoria Company in which 
J. Ferguson was then the leading spirit, and the United Dia- 
mond Mining Company. 

The De Beers Mining Company was formed on the ist of 
April, 1880, with a capital of ^200,000, by the union of the 
three firms first mentioned. It progressed with extraordinary 
success, extending its range of ownership, absorbing step by step 
its floundering neighbors, and finally standing out preeminent 
in March, 1885, with a capital of ,841,550, upon which divi- 
dends of 7-| per cent had been paid during the last fiscal year, 
in spite of the heavy charges of development work and the un- 
avoidable hampering of its mining operations. Mr. Rudd states 
that at one time Rhodes and he had the offer of the entire De 
Beers mine for "6,000, and they walked about a whole day 
talking it over, but finally decided they could not finance it. 
The licenses at that time were so costly that it was thought wise 
not to risk the purchase. Money was not very plentiful among 
these men in those days, as is shown by one of the first checks 
of the De Beers Mining Company, which was drawn by Rhodes 
in his own favor for 5, "as an advance against his salary as 

It is possible that Barnato may have tried to bring about a 
further consolidation of some of the various interests in Kim- 
berley mine, but there is nothing to show that he contemplated 
any broad scheme. 

For nearly six years Rhodes concentrated his efforts in the 
Diamond Fields toward obtaining complete control of De Beers 
mine by himself and his chosen friends, and he brought about 
this consolidation of all the holdings in May, 1887. His 
master mind was steadfastly bent on the attainment of the con- 
trol of the development and output of the four great diamond- 
producing mines of South Africa, and his work of first uniting 
all the interests in De Beers mine was but the beginning of his 
great dream. The range for amalgamation of the four mines 
was so great that no single man, however ambitious, could hope 
to cover it by any single-handed effort. The consolidation of 


all the companies in De Beers mine was on the lines conceived 
by Rhodes, and carried out by the support given him by the 
leading men who were interested in the various companies. 

Up to this time there was no rivalry between Rhodes and 
Barnato, for no measures had been taken by Rhodes to obtain 
a footing in Kimberley mine. The first steps taken in this 
direction were to try to purchase the claims in the west end of 
the Kimberley mine held by the Cape of Good Hope bank, 
and known as W. A. Hall's claims. This was in the beginning 
of May, 1887. Unfortunately, however, for Rhodes's scheme, 
these claims had already been offered to a syndicate in London, 
headed by Sir Donald Currie, and were purchased by that syndi- 
cate for 1 1 0,000. The plan which Rhodes had in his mind 
was to purchase these claims, and also to purchase the claims 
of the " Compagnie Fra^aise des Mines de Diamant du Cap 
de Bon Esperance," known as the " French Company." The 
" French Company " held a block of claims which ran nearly 
across the mine from north to south, and divided the holdings 


of the Central Company. It also held a block of claims adjoin- 
ing those of W. A. Hall, but these were not connected with the 
main body of their claims, being separated by the intervening 
claims of the Central Company. These two companies were 
so antagonistic to one another that neither would allow the 
divided blocks of ground to be worked by means of tunnels 
driven through the diamond-bearing ground of the opposing 
company. The Central Company worked its claims by two 
separate shafts sunk in the blue ground at the bottom of the 
open mine, and the ground hoisted in the shafts was sent to the 
surface by means of aerial trams, while the " French Company " 
was compelled to drive tunnels into the walls of the mine adjoin- 
ing the claims and connect them by a cross tunnel, as they were 
working through one shaft only. 

To create a powerful company in Kimberley mine was sub- 
stantially all that the leading men in that mine had been work- 
ing for, but this was far from satisfying Rhodes. Barnato viewed 
the situation as a speculator and investor. Money making 





through mining on a sound basis was avowedly the limit of his 
scheme, apart from a natural pride in figuring as the foremost 
operator in these marvellous Diamond Fields, and a rising star 
of the first magnitude on the London Stock Exchange. But the 
assurance of money making was, at most, a minor consideration 
with Rhodes. He, too, valued money highly, but not for the 
bare delight in piling it up or for the luxuries which it would 
purchase. Great wealth was to him the essential means for the 
furtherance of great plans. He wanted millions in hand, or the 
assured control of millions, to push his design for the lighting-up 
of the Dark Continent by the torchbearers of civilization, for the 
carrying of the flag of Greater Britain from the Cape to Cairo. 

A man of kindred spirit, but of far more quixotic temper, 
the great soldier, General Gordon, once told him of the offer of 
a roomful of gold by the Chinese Government for his extraordi- 
nary services in subduing the Tai-Ping rebellion. 

" What did you do ? " said Rhodes. 

" Refused it, of course," said the disdainful Gordon. " What 
would you have done ? " 

" Done," said Rhodes, " why, I would have taken it, and as 
many more roomfuls as the Chinese would give me. It is no 
use to us to have big ideas, if we have not got the money to 
carry them out." 

The range of his plans and how he pursued them will be 
presented in detail in the chapter dealing with the far-reaching 
undertakings of the great Chartered Company which he con- 
ceived and brought into existence. It is sufficient to note at 


present that he pushed the development of his grand political 
aims apace with the means at his command, from the very begin- 
ning of his appearance as a prominent factor in the development 
of the diamond mines. He entered the Cape Parliament as 
a member for the district of Barkly West, almost coincidently 
with the formation of the De Beers Mining Company. From 
the day of his entrance into the political field, he worked un- 
waveringly for the extension of British dominion into the heart 
of Africa. 




The northern boundary of the province of Griqualand West, 
formed by the inclusion of the new Diamond Fields, had not 
been determined by careful surveying, and the location of the 
line was disputed by the Batlapin chief, Mankoroane, who 
claimed control of the territory which is now Lower Bechuana- 
land. Rhodes prevailed on the Cape Government to form 
and send out a Delimitation Commission for the settlement of 

Avenue of Oaks, Cape Town. House of Parliament at the Left. 

the dispute, and his appointment as one of the commissioners 
was a natural recognition of his interest and competence. 
Shortly after he reached the frontier he was able to satisfy 
himself that the complaint of the chief was well founded. Some 
seventy farms belonging to Mankoroane's tribe had been in- 
cluded in error within the bounds of the British province, and 
justice demanded this acknowledgment. But instead of aban- 
doning the ground, Rhodes saw that restitution might be 
made in a way to accord with his aim for the extension of 


British sovereignty, and his cogent appeal persuaded the 
Batlapin chief to place all his territorial holdings, covering half 
Bechuanaland, under British protection by cession to the Cape 
Colony. To his mortification, however, the Colony declined 
the offered cession with its contingent obligations. Then 
Rhodes appealed to the Home Government, and finally suc- 
ceeded in obtaining the establishment of a Protectorate over 
Lower Bechuanaland in 1884. 

But it was only by the most pressing insistence that this 
advance was maintained. The Cape Colony was so stubborn in 
its refusal to bear the expense of any new acquisition, and the 
Imperial Government was so doubtful and sluggish in grasping 
its opportunities, that Rhodes was forced to the conclusion that 
the only assurance of the accomplishment of his aims must 
come from his own private enterprise, through the forming of 
some great corporation, whose capital and interests might be 
engaged in his undertaking for the control and development of 
the resources of the vast barbaric interior of Africa. It was 
for this cause chiefly that he was so unflaggingly insistent upon 
the farthest possible stretch of amalgamation in the control of 
the diamond mines, though it must justly be observed that the 
thorough amalgamation of conflicting interests in the Fields was 

O D O 

very highly desirable, if not absolutely essential, for its systematic 
development and the marketing of its output. A possible com- 
bination, with which Barnato would have rested content, would 
have wholly failed to accomplish the end which Rhodes had so 
deeply at heart. 

In the year 1887, shortly after taking charge of the De 
Beers Mining Company, Mr. Rhodes requested me to write to 
two of my friends in London, Mr. Hamilton Smith and Mr. 
E. G. De Crano, who founded the Exploration Company of 
London, and who were intimately connected with the Messrs. 
Rothschild, and request them to ask Lord Rothschild if he 
would supply the funds for the purchase of the French Com- 
pany in the Kimberley mine, provided Rhodes could come 
to some agreement with that Company for the purchase of the 



property. Before any answer could be received, even by cable, 
Rhodes, who had gone from Kimberley to Cape Town to 
attend the Session of Parliament, became very impatient about 
securing this property, and wired me to join him, and we sailed 
from Cape Town on the 6th of July. In my letter to Messrs. 
Smith and De Crano I put before them the plan which Rhodes 
proposed to carry out, and the object he had in purchasing the 
French Company's property, viz., to prevent the amalgamation 
of all the interests in that mine, which might be set up as an 
independent company in conflict 
with the interests of De Beers. 

On our arrival in London we 
met Lord Rothschild, and Rhodes 
discussed the plan with him. In 
the meantime, while we were on 
the water, Rhodes's scheme had 
been presented to the late Mr. 
Tite and to Mr. Carl Meyer of 
Messrs. N. M. Rothschild & 
Sons, who were very favorably im- 
pressed with the business, and had 
discussed it with Lord Rothschild. 
Mr. De Crano had made several 
trips to Paris, and had already Mr. Carl Meyer, 

paved the way for a conference between Rhodes and the directors 
of the " French Company." 

At the close of the interview, Lord Rothschild said, " Well, 
Mr. Rhodes, you go to Paris and see what you can do in refer- 
ence to the purchase of the French Company's property, and in 
the meantime I will see if I can raise the ^1,000,000 which you 

On leaving the room Lord Rothschild stopped Mr. De 
Crano for a moment, and said to him, "You may tell Mr. 
Rhodes that if he can buy the French Company, I think I can 
raise the million pounds sterling." 

The same evening Rhodes, Mr. De Crano, Mr. Harry 


Mosenthal, and myself left for Paris, and after several meetings 
with the French Company's directors, we settled upon the terms 
for the purchase of their property, which they valued at that time 
at about ^ 1,400,000, including all their assets. On returning 
to London Mr. Rhodes arranged with Lord Rothschild that he 
should furnish him with ^750,000, which would be sufficient for 
the time being to complete the arrangements that he had made 
with the French Company. In my letter of the i8th of June, 
it was mentioned to Messrs. Smith and De Crano that Rhodes 
would be willing to issue De Beers shares in payment of the 
loan at i less than the ruling market price of the shares at the 
date the money was paid, and would pay Messrs. Rothschild a 
handsome commission for transacting the business. 

The final arrangement made for the payment of this money 
was the issue of 50,000 De Beers Mining Company's shares at 
J~i$ per share, and a syndicate was formed to take up these 
shares with the able assistance of Mr. Ludwig Lippert, of Ham- 
burg. It was agreed between Lord Rothschild and Rhodes 
that the profit on the rise of the shares between ^16 and J~zo 
during the next three months should be divided between the 
purchasing syndicate and the De Beers Company. The shares 
rapidly rose, and, before the expiration of the time, had already 
reached ^22 per share. The De Beers Company received 
; 1 00,000 as their portion of the profit on the rise of the shares. 
Shortly after the completion of this business Rhodes returned 
to the colony and awaited the result of the French Company's 
shareholders' meeting to confirm the sale which had been made 
to him by the directors of that company. Barnato and others 
interested in the Kimberley Central Company, upon hearing of 
the transaction that had taken place, determined to use every 
effort to prevent the consummation of this sale, and threatened 
to offer the shareholders of the French Company at their gen- 
eral meeting ^300,000 more than the amount for which the 
directors had pledged the company to Rhodes. 

As a general of a great army is obliged to have the assistance 
and cooperation of competent lieutenants to carry out the plan 



of campaign which his superior mind has conceived, so Rhodes 
looked about for the strongest and ablest men to join him in 
repelling the vigorous attack which was being made against him. 
The first check which he gave his opponents seemed at first sight 
to be a complete surrender to them. Instead of allowing Bar- 
nato and his colleagues to bid against him for the purchase of 
the French Company, Rhodes arranged with them that he should 
complete the purchase upon the lines agreed upon with the direc- 
tors of that company, and promised to unite the interests so pur- 
chased with the Kimberley Central Company, in which Mr. Francis 
Baring-Gould, who was the chair- 
man, Barnato, and others held the 
controlling power, taking shares in 
the Central Company in payment. 

In this, as well as in subsequent 
transactions, Rhodes was most ably 
assisted by Mr. Alfred Beit, the 
Kimberley representative of Jules 
Forges & Co., who started business 
in Paris as diamond merchants in 
1869. The men who from time to 
time have been connected with Mr. 
Forges and the successors to him, 
Messrs. Wernher, Beit & Co., took 
the keenest interest in Rhodes's scheme, and assisted him more 
than all others in bringing about the consolidation of the dia- 
mond interests. As early as 1871 Mr. Julius Wernher went 
out to Kimberley in the capacity of diamond buyer for Jules 
Forges & Co., and became partner in the firm in 1878. The 
firm grew in importance, and became owners in some of the 
largest companies in the four mines. They were the founders 
of the Griqualand West Diamond Mining Company in Kim- 
berley mine, which was afterward re-formed into the " French 
Company." Mr. Alfred Beit came to the fields in 1875 as a 
diamond buyer for the firm of Lippert & Co., of Hamburg, and 
after a few years established himself in business as a diamond 

Mr. Alfred Beit, while a Resident of 


buyer on his own account. In the year 1882 he joined the firm 
of Jules Forges & Co., as their representative in South Africa, 
and became a partner in the firm in 1886. 

In 1889 Mr. Forges retired from the firm, which was re- 
formed as Wernher, Beit & Co., Mr. Max Michaelis joining 
the firm. Mr. Michaelis came to the Fields in 1878, and went 
into partnership with Mr. S. Neumann. He organized the Cape 
Diamond Mining Company in Kimberley mine. In 1880 he 
entered into an arrangement with Jules Forges & Co. to carry on 
his diamond business on joint account with them, which arrange- 
ment remained in force until Mr. Forges retired, when he became 
a partner in the new firm. Mr. Michaelis assisted in bringing 
about the fusion of several of the large claim-holders in the 
Kimberley mine, such as Baring-Gould & Atkins, and Baring- 
Gould, Price & Tracy, with the Kimberley Central Company. 

The great initiative and business capabilities of Mr. Beit 
were heartily recognized by Rhodes, and he was very largely 
instrumental in building up the diamond-mining industries, and 
bringing the dreams of Rhodes into practical shape and on 
business lines. 

At a special general meeting of the shareholders of the De 
Beers Mining Company Limited, held at Kimberley on the 3ist 

and con- 

of March, 1888, for the purpose of considering 
firming an agreement entered into between the 

The Diamond Market, Kimberley, 1875. (First Office of Mr. Alfred Beit at the Left.) 


Boards for the amalgamation of the De Beers Mining Company 
with De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited, Mr. Rhodes gave 
his reasons for the necessity of acquiring either the control of the 
Kimberley mine or of entering into some arrangement with the 
directors of the Central Company, who controlled the mine, by 
which the output of both De Beers and Kimberley mines could 
be regulated. He saw that by skilful and systematic mining 
on the underground system, the output of the mines could be 
increased far beyond the world's requirements. It was clear, 
too, if these two mines were run in opposition to one another, 
it would result in the flooding of the market with diamonds, and 
a consequent depreciation of their value, with a fall in market 
prices almost ruinous to both companies. He saw that the out- 
put of diamond-bearing ground could be made almost unlimited, 
and in referring to this he said: "We had to face either an arrange- 
ment with the Kimberley Central Company, v or obtain control 
of the Kimberley mine. We approached the Kimberley mine 
management in every possible way we could conceive. I valued 
the De Beers mine higher than they did, but I was willing to 
give way in order to obtain control. I was met simply with 
smiles and obdurate statements. I was met with the arguments 
of the gentleman at ' the corner,' who said the Kimberley mine 
was worth three times as much as De Beers. We had to choose 
between the ruin of the diamond industry or the control of the 
Kimberley mine. We saw this, that you could never deal with 
obstinate people until you got the whip hand of them, and that 
the only thing we had to do to secure the success of our industry 
was to get the control of the Kimberley mine." 

As soon as Rhodes had bought the French Company and 
amalgamated his interests with the Kimberley Central Company, 
he found that the management of that Company was headstrong 
in its determination to run the Kimberley mine in rivalry with 
De Beers. This was diametrically opposed to his conviction 
that monopoly was the essence of success in diamond mining ; 
for, as he said, " Our engineers had long ago shown us that, by 
underground working, Kimberley and De Beers mines could 



produce far more diamonds than the world would take." By 
the purchase of the French Company, De Beers Company held 
one-fifth of the capital of the Central Company, and after many 
attempts to bring about a friendly union of the two mines, 
Rhodes came to the conclusion that the only feasible plan 
was to buy a sufficient number of shares in the Central Company 
to obtain control. To accomplish this would take at least 
^2,000,000 sterling. Fortunately Mr. Alfred Beit, whose com- 
mand of capital for such great undertakings was unequalled in 
South Africa, stood fast by him in determined cooperation. In 
answer to Rhodes's natural question, " Where is the money to 
come from ? " Mr. Beit said pithily, " We will get the money 
if we can only get the shares." 

Then ensued a most keen contest. Mr. Beit and Rhodes be- 
gan buying all Central shares that could be secured with apparently 
limitless means. Both were leaders in the contest, but Mr. Beit 
furnished most of the money. Meanwhile Barney Barnato was 
bidding against them with unfailing pluck for the control of the 
Company. The price of shares mounted by jumps, but never 
too high for Barnato, who was persistent in his claim that the 
Kimberley mine was worth two of De Beers. Rhodes's version 
of the story of this struggle is that in his purchase of shares he 
had the support of the loyal directors and shareholders of his 
Company, while his principal opponent was handicapped by the 
fact that he was forced to buy out his own largest shareholders. 
There is little doubt that Barnato felt this apparent lack of loy- 
alty keenly, but he was too strenuous a fighter to concede defeat. 
As a matter of fact, he came to terms with his antagonists only 
when the price of shares had been bulled to a figure that seemed 
out of reason even to his sanguine estimate, while the price of 
diamonds had been forced down unprofitably by unobstructed 
competition. After many and long conferences, Rhodes made 
Barnato one last offer, which he accepted. For his interest in 
the Kimberley Central Company he was paid with De Beers 
shares at the current rates of shares on the day of the sale. By 
this purchase De Beers' holding of Central shares was brought 


up to eleven thousand out of seventeen thousand shares. Under 
the trust deed of the Central no amalgamation could be made 
unless half the capital was present at a meeting called for the 
purpose, and no new resolution could be carried without a two- 
thirds majority of those present. The bargain with, Barnato 
gave De Beers the control. 

So having finally obtained the control of the Kimberley mine 
by purchase for ^5,338, 650, Rhodes turned his attention to 
what he called the poorer mines, Dutoitspan and Bultfontein. 
At a meeting of De Beers shareholders he said he was reminded 
of a story he had read about a certain mine, of which it was said 
"it was too rich to leave and too poor to pay," and he would 
thus describe the mines alluded to. " Nothing," he said, " was 
so extraordinary as the way in which the people would hold scrip 
from year to year that never pays, but it was always said, * Oh, 
next year it will pay,' and so it went on from year to year." He 
wished to state " that so far as the amalgamation of the diamond 
mines was concerned, it would not help the poorer mines, but 
rather the other way. It was generally noticed in mining 
matters that following upon one success a number of unsuccess- 
ful ventures were floated. And this was why they had secured 
these interests in Dutoitspan and Bultfontein mines." He did 
not look upon the purchase of properties in these mines as a 
good investment, with diamonds at the price they were bringing 
at the time of the purchase; but as these two mines were large 
factors in the production of diamonds, their yield, even if mined 
at a loss, would affect in a very large degree the price which 
could be obtained for the product of the richer mines. 
Although Dutoitspan mine could not be worked at a profit at 
the market price of diamonds, and the mine had already begun 
to be troubled with reef falls burying the blue ground below, 
still he considered it necessary to get control of the principal 
companies in this mine. In Bultfontein mine, where the reef 
troubles had already begun, there was still a large portion of the 
mine in process of working, and he described it as being " on 
the margin of cultivation." If the reef remained standing, and 



:^ : * : *-." 


the price of diamonds was fair, the mine could be worked at a 
small profit. 

Rhodes continued the purchase of the properties in both 
these mines until the whole of the two mines came into the 
possession of the corporation organized as De Beers Consoli- 
dated Mines. He showed the shareholders in the various 
companies that the fate of the poorer mines lay in his hands, 
because he could produce twice the amount of diamonds the 
world required from De Beers and Kimberley mines alone. 
Even at the low rate of fourteen shillings a carat, he made it 
clear that the richer mines could pay to the shareholders divi- 
dends which would satisfy them. " The poorer mines, ' on the 
margin of cultivation,' would have to accept our offers, or fight 
us on two grounds, larger output and lower rates." 

In his speech at the annual meeting of the De Beers Min- 
ing Company, held at Kimberley on the I2th day of May, 1888, 
Rhodes bore tribute cordially to the essential cooperation of 
Mr. Beit in his great undertaking. 

In moving a vote of thanks to the chairman, his former 
antagonist, Barnato, briefly referred to the struggle which was 
closed by the purchase of his shares in the Kimberley mine. 
He said " no person knew better than he did the labor Mr. 
Rhodes had to convert him into the De Beers Mining Company." 
He could say that day after day and night after night Mr. 
Rhodes was laboring to get him to take De Beers for Centrals. 
He gave way when he saw diamonds down to eighteen shillings 
a carat, and on those conditions he joined Mr. Rhodes. It is 
only just to Barnato to note in closing that he was as loyal in 
his later cooperation as he had been persistent in his antagonism. 
It is sad to recall how his brilliant and versatile mind gave way 
under the enormous strain brought upon him by the various 
obligations incurred through his numerous investments and 
flotations in the gold fields. His tragic death was a distressful 
close to his phenomenal career. On his way to England from 
the Cape, in June, 1897, he suddenly sprang overboard and was 

.8881 SI 

DIAMOND >U\t ; M ,\!-RtCA 

diamond* -'d b? worked at a 

u properties in both 
;i.!ies came into the 
DC Beers Consoli- 

; holders in the various 
mines lay in his hands, 
.mount of diamonds the 
Kimberley mines alone. 
: ' i ' i;iigs a carat, he made it 

r> the shareholders divi- 
I he poorer mines, ' on the 
? accept our offers, or fight 
'.i Io\\er rates." 

; -rring of the De Beers Min- 
'?n the 1 2th day of May, 1888, 

Barnato's Turnout on the Occasion of his First Election- to ;thev Cape Pailioi of 
ment as Senior Member for Kimberley, November 17, 1888. 

- k> to the chairman, his former 

*. v red to the struggle which was 

-hares in the Kimberley mine. 

icrter than he did the labor Mr. 

!< aci the De Hcers Mining Company." 

!av and night utter night Mr. 

take I)c Beers for Centrals. 

liamn^is down to eighteen shillings 

L'i.'i'-d Mv. Rhodes. It is 

lie was as loyal in 

-rent \'\ his antagonism. 

versariie mind gave way 

upon him by the various 

minv^us investments and 

: fr. His tragic 'leach was a distressful 

O;i his wav to 1' '.upland from 

:ji.'ltnl' sprang overboard and was 



T has been told why and how the conflicting 
interests on the Diamond Field were fused in 
one dominant organization. The signal ser- 
vices of this amalgamation are now too obvious 
for dispute. By. the formation of De Beers 
Consolidated Mines Limited, it became practi- 
cable to design and conduct mining operations systematically 
and economically and to regulate the output to the market de- 
mand. It was soon apparent, too, that the organization of this 
extraordinary joint stock company was the creation of a power 
of yet unmeasured service for the development of the resources 
of South Africa and the push of civilization through the Dark 

The only approaches to the far-reaching conception of this 
organization must be traced back to the old Dutch and English 
East India companies, or the visionary project of John Law, 
exploding in air as the Mississippi Bubble. At the outset, on 
the 1 2th of March, 1888, a seemingly unpretentious joint stock 
company was formed and established at Kimberley with a capital 
of 1 00,000 sterling, divided into twenty thousand shares of 
^"5 each. Authority was granted, however, in the articles of the 
association, to the shareholders of the company to increase this 
small capital in general meeting, from time to time, for the 
acquisition of new property, by creating new shares to any 
extent, or, in the exact words of article 39, " such amount as 
may be deemed expedient." No provision for expansion and 
acquisition could be more liberal, and the particular specifica- 
tions of the articles of the association show that " new property," 



in possible range at least, was not confinable to the Diamond 
Fields or Cape Colony, or even, perhaps, the scope of the whole 
Dark Continent. 

It was remarked somewhat caustically at the time, but with 
undeniable keenness, that it was much easier to tell what this 
amazing Company could do than to determine what it should 
not do under its articles of association and trust deed incorpo- 
ration under the limited liability laws of the Cape of Good 
Hope. It might shift its head office from Kimberley to any 
other place on earth. It might " acquire by purchase, amalga- 
mation, grant, concession, lease, license, barter, or otherwise any 
houses, lands, farms, tracts of country, quarries, mines, mining 
or other claims, rights and privileges, water rights, waterworks 
or other works, privileges, rights and hereditaments, diamonds 
and other precious stones, gold and other minerals, ores, coals, 
earth, and any other valuable product or substance, machinery, 
plant, utensils, trade marks, patents for invention, licenses to 
use any patented invention, and other movable and immovable 
property of any description in Africa or elsewhere." Under 
this liberal license, the only apparent obstacle to its ownership 
of the face of the earth is the declination of other holders to sell 
or give it away. 

It was further specifically authorized to carry on a mining and 
general trading business in any part of the globe, and to con- 
struct, maintain, and operate any tramways, railways, roads, tun- 
nels, waterworks, canals, gas works, electric works, reservoirs, 
water-courses, furnaces, stamping works, smelting works, fac- 
tories, and in general, "any other works and conveniences which 
the Company may think conducive to any of its objects." It 
might also become interested in, promote, and undertake the 
formation and establishment of such institutions or companies 
(trading, manufacturing, banking, or other) as may be considered 
to be conducive to the profit and interest of the Company, and 
to carry on any business, in short, " calculated directly or indi- 
rectly to render any of the Company's properties or rights for 
the time being profitable." There was also provision for the 

O A 


ssible range at ! ..<;' -it* ruble to the Diamond 

t nis or Cape (<>' -, the scope of the whole 

i -ark Continrnr. 

It was !'.- at the time, but with 

undeniable -^h easier to tell what this 

Aiiui/ini2 . r determine what it should 

no t du viution and trust deed incorpo- 

ratioi ;T > laws of the Cape of Good 

Hopt- -i office from Kimberley to any 

" acquire by purchase, amalga- 

, license, barter, or otherwise any 

.f country, quarries, mines, mining 

<>rivi leges, water rights, waterworks 
A Group of De Beers Directors and Officials and Prominent South Africans 

who attended the Annual Meeting; October 24, 1894^ 


From Left torft}g$fc, C f ,tance, machinery, 

Dr. R. Harris, Richard Solomon, ,. 

W. H. Craven, s l5?J. Ws&frB&P 11 ' 

G. W. Compton. ieD*PL.-S. Jam'es^n, immovable 

Major Goold Adams, in AfriGccil j. Rhodesere." Under 

Gardner F. Williams, apparentHfoN^P 11 ' * ownership 

Judge J. G. Lange. Henry Robinow, 

* ^ i i LJ the declinatu.) \.. , holders to sell 

Lieutenant Colonel Harris. C. E. Nmd. 

My authorized to carry on a mining and 

i any part of the globe, and to con- 

;-.ite any tramways, railways, roads, tun- 

,r;is works, electric works, reservoirs, 

imping works, smelting works, fac- 

other works and conveniences which 

onducive to anv ot its objects." It 

-,ied in, promote, and undertake the 

of such institutions or companies 

ri,i:n ; ;. :ng,or other! as may be considered 

IK ojndiu: r and interest of the Company, and 

; carry on arv busin-.r imrt, "calculated directly or indi- 

nd-jr ativ nf f i-'iipany's properties or rights for 

u- p^-ofitab'.t i here was also provision for the 

OF \ 



possible acquirement of any tract or tracts of country of any size 
in Africa or elsewhere, together with any rights that might be 
granted by the rulers or owners thereof, and the expenditure of 
any sums deemed requisite and advisable in the development 
and maintenance of order and good government in such acquisi- 

In view of the enjoyment by the shareholders of such privi- 
leges and liberties, it was only natural that the directors of the 
Company should not be grudgingly confined. This was, indeed, 
the case, and two specifications of powers, in particular, have 
proved to be highly serviceable in practice, for there has been 
no abuse of discretion. The directors were authorized " to pur- 
chase, hire, or otherwise acquire for the Company any share in 
any kind of joint stock company, property rights, or privileges 
which the Company is authorized to acquire, at such price and 
generally on such terms and conditions as they may think fit ; 
also to sell, lease, abandon, or otherwise deal with any shares, 
property rights, or privileges to which the Company may be 
entitled, on such terms and conditions as they may see fit, and to 
amalgamate with any other company or companies having objects 
altogether or in part similar to the objects of this Company." 
They were further empowered " to found, promote, float, and 
acquire interest or shares in any companies, undertakings, or in- 
stitutions, as they may deem advisable in the interests of the 
Company ; also to acquire interests in, promote, aid, or subsidize 
any useful industry or undertaking in any country where the 
Company may be carrying on business." 

At the outset, De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited was 
preeminently what is termed a close corporation. Four men 
held all but twenty-five shares of its stock. These, in the order 
of their subscription to the articles of association, were Alfred 
Beit, holding 4439 shares ; Barnett I. Barnato, holding 6658 ; 
Cecil J. Rhodes, holding 4439 ; and Frederick S. P. Stow, hold- 
ing the same number as Beit and Rhodes. These four, by the 
articles, were practically authorized as shareholders to create " five 
life governors or permanent directors of the Company, four 


of whom shall be Cecil John Rhodes, Barnett Isaac Barnato, 
Frederick Samuel Philipson Stow, and Alfred Beit." If " so 
minded," these four had the power by unanimous resolution of 
themselves or their survivors to appoint the fifth authorized 
" life governor," and to fill any vacancy occurring in their 
number by reason of death or otherwise. These four were 
further constituted the first directors of the Company, and had 

power to appoint other directors, if they so desired, to act in 
conjunction with them until the first ordinary general meeting 
of the Company, when the shareholders were called upon to de- 
termine how many directors there should be besides the life 
governors, and to elect " such number as they determine to be 

From the point of view of ordinary investors in ordinary 
stock companies the unlimited sweep of this unique organization 
and the powers confided to its controlling directors may be 

TH; 301 

summed up in on. 1 

are indeed " of this 


tion tha r 

and \ 



ing a; 

freedom of exj 


great, but who v n grw 

for the reconciliu 

rational developme 

fort of the miners, the profit u 

of allied industries, Wt>E BEERS GROUP. 

The possih' &*<% of ex t Sitting. 

From Left to Right. 

Thomas Shiels, J. Morrogh, 

harmlessn<6. W. Compton, 'd vil to tl H. Mosenthal, 
might " gi?-t R - English. . powdF. S. P. Stow, 

there t C - E - Atkinson. 

corporate ; 

il corp< 

rap iil was \ 

man of Rhodes, 

the special gene/al meet; he sharc : 

Mining Company. The programme 
mously endorsed by the shareholdt 
it without alteration as the best 
solidation of the diamond-mini) 
At this general meeting < ' 
Mining Company was form. 
The shareholders of the 
$ shares in I ' 
fully paid \o share MINKS OF SOUTH AFRICA 

' \iiom shall be "Rhodes, Harriett Isaac Barnato, 

xdu-ick S.i<nut! J" Stow, and Alfred; Beit." If "so 

.uncicJ," thc:>.- to-.n ;. power 1 unanimous resolution of 

-,-.: "ivors to aj^})oint. the fifth authorized 
ID lil! any vacancy occurring in their 
! Je.itii or otherwise. These four were 
: fir.^r directors ot the Company, and had 

. :, 

s .2 ,-q 

c\ sd desired, to act in 
r,i;-iai . general meeting 
wet called upon to de- 
HiKi ht: besides the life 
as the v determine to be 

<'{ ordinary investors in ordinary 

j iii; i; !ii,''.vi s\v<- p of this unique organization 

confided to ^s controlling directors may be 


summed up in the familiar outcry of Dominie Sampson. They 
are indeed " prodigious," but the phenomenal success of this 
combination is a stubborn fact that must be faced in any conten- 
tion that its scope and method of conduct were unwarrantable 
and unadvisable. Its base of operation was not Lombard Street, 
but the heart of South Africa, in a field so unique, in a situ- 
ation so perplexing, in unavoidable touch with such far-rang- 
ing and conflicting interests, that ordinary limitations, hampering 
freedom of expansion and action, would have been crippling and 
possibly disastrous handicaps. The powers of the directors are 
great, but who can justly deny that they have been greatly used 
for the reconciliation of jarring interests, the comprehensive and 
rational development of the diamond mines, the safety and com- 
fort of the miners, the profit of the shareholders, the promotion 
of allied industries, and the general welfare of South Africa ? 
The possible range of expansion of the interests of the corpora- 
tion is a bugbear to some good people, who would prefer the 
harmlessness of the deserted village to the risk that civilization 
might " git forrid sometimes upon a powder cart." But what is 
there to show, to-day, of the actual stretch and exercise of the 
corporate powers beyond the judicious limits of profitable in- 
vestment, sagacious development of tributary resources, and dis- 
charge of patriotic obligations ? 

The expansion of the original corporate foundation was 
rapidly pushed. The plan in detail was presented by the chair- 
man of the corporation, Mr. Rhodes, on March 31, 1888, at 
the special general meeting of the shareholders of the De Beers 
Mining Company. The programme thus presented was unani- 
mously endorsed by the shareholders of the Company, accepting 
it without alteration as the best feasible proposition for the con- 
solidation of the diamond-mining interests. 

At this general meeting of the shareholders the De Beers 
Mining Company was formally merged in the new corporation. 
The shareholders of the old Company received two fully paid 
$ shares in De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited for every 
fully paid 10 share in the old Company. Having effected 


this acquisition, transferring the whole of De Beers mine, and the 
interests of the late De Beers Mining Company in all outside 
mining properties, the Consolidated Mines pushed forward stead- 
ily their undertaking of a comprehensive consolidation. The 
first and most important step was the securing of the whole of 
Kimberley mine, the greatest producing factor next to De Beers. 
The method by which the property of the Kimberley Central 
Diamond Mining Company was finally turned over to the Con- 
solidated Mines has been described in the preceding chapter. 

In the acquisition of Dutoitspan and Bultfontein mines a 
different plan was adopted. These mines, at the time, were not 
profitable producing properties, and it was practically certain that 
they could not be operated to advantage in view of the output 
from the greater and richer mines. For several years each of 
these mines had produced diamonds to the value of over half a 
million carats annually ; but this production was rapidly declin- 
ing, owing to the unresisted falls of reef. Among the assets 
taken over from the old De Beers Company were a number of 
shares in the Griqualand West Company of Dutoitspan and 
in the Bultfontein Consolidated Company. By the influence 
secured through this acquisition, it was not difficult to effect 
permanent working agreements with De Beers Consolidated 
Mines, by which the new corporation attained complete posses- 
sion of both mining properties in consideration of the payment 
of a fixed annual dividend. During the second year after the 
incorporation, the Consolidated Mines purchased the property 
of the Anglo-African Mining Company, the Compagnie Generale 
(including its interest in the Conivieras mines in the Brazils), 
the Sultan Diamond Mining Company, and the United Diamond 
Mining Company, representing nearly all the properties of ma- 
terial consequence and extent in Dutoitspan mine except the 
Gordon Company's holdings. During the same period the 
Consolidated Mines bought in the Bultfontein Mining Com- 
pany, the Spes Bona Diamond Mining Company, and the South 
African Diamond Mining Company, comprising a considerable 
part of the properties in the Bultfontein mine. 

THE !> 



fjss acquisition, transfer ":ng the* whole of DC Beers mine, and the 
interests of the lu^c in Beers Mining Company in all outside 

Consolidated Mines pushed forward stead- 

of a comprehensive consolidation. The 

runt step was the securing of the whole of 

i: greatest producing tactor next to De Beers. 

L the property of the Kimberley Central 

i-.mpany was finally turned over to the Con- 

bcrn described in the preceding chapter. 

,)u '..t Dutoitspan and Bultfontein mines a 

These mines, at the time, were not 

producing cs, rind ;: was practically certain that 



i diamonds to the value or over half a 

. productic#!'was rapidly declin- 

From Left to Right 

E. Bernheim, Woolf Joef>mong the asset; 

W. H. Craven, Seeret*ry\\^ Ci E. Niwdwere a number of 

Gardner F. Williams. &nq*hMA&gW est H. Mosentbal|) uro j tspan and 

L. Breitmeyer, . r ; :Vc;n Consolidated C<,&4' Rhodes ' W ^rfu r ence 
Lieutenant Colonel D. Harris. B. I. Barnato, Life Governor, 

Francis Oats. 

'"G. V. Compton. Consolidated 

< -v corporation attained complete posses- 

prfip-rties in consideration of the payment 

During the second year after the 

)iulat:cd "vltnt's purchased the property 

u: Mininij Ci.'npany, the Compagnie Generale 

irucrest in the ''u:\icras mines in the Brazils), 

* Di.iiTiaiu'i M miner Company, and the United Diamond 

: Company, representing nearly all the properties of ma- 

.\{iK*nc arul tent in Dutoitspan mine except the 

-ipanv During tlie same period the 

- bi;',;jlr iii the Bultfontein Mining Com- 

- Boi.a Dhinujnd Mining Company, and the South 

Mining Company, comprising a considerable 

:'.<'". { the ;>mprities in f he Bultfontein mine. 




The actual cost of the properties thus acquired by the Con- 
solidated Mines was approximately ^14,500,000. There would 
have been no difficulty in expanding the capital of the corpora- 
tion by the issuing of shares to an amount sufficient to cover 
this immense acquisition, but a more conservative course was 
adopted. It was decided not to increase the capital of the cor- 
poration beyond ^3, 950,000. The purchases in excess of this 
issue were provided for by the issue of debentures. The adop- 
tion of this plan necessitated a provision for covering very heavy 
fixed charges in the early years of the operations of the Consoli- 
dated Mines ; but this obligation was undertaken with confidence 
in view of the assurance of the control of the diamond market, 
brought about through the consolidation, and the actual return 
in the rapidly increasing output of the mines with systematic 
and scientific development. 

During the financial year following the completion of con- 
solidation, De Beers produced 2,195,112 carats of diamonds. 
This product, including the proceeds of diamonds from debris 
washing, realized in the market ^"3,287,728. In that year the 
total weight of diamonds produced by all the mines in the 
Kimberley division was 2,415,655 carats. Thus approximately 
ninety per cent of the total production was then furnished by the 
Consolidated Mines. The net profit of the operations for the 
year exceeded i ,000,000 sterling, and two half-yearly dividends 
of ten per cent each were paid to the shareholders. The actual 
cost of winning over 2,000,000 carats of diamonds, including 
all expenses at the mines and office charges, was a little over a 
million sterling, or roughly los. per carat. The difference 
between the estimated net profit and the costs of operation 
was expended in the payment of interest on debentures and 
obligations and in provision for their redemption, and in the set- 
ting aside of an exceedingly liberal provision of over ^500,000 
as an offset for depreciation of plant, etc. 

The directors of the De Beers Consolidated Mines could 
point with high satisfaction to this profitable showing in contrast 
with the records of disastrous competition and conflicting mine 


operations. No exact statistics are obtainable of the production 
in the early years, when no official returns from the mines were 
made. The late Barney Barnato, who made a special study of 
the probable rate of production, estimated the product from 
1873 to 1880 as ranging annually from a million to a million 
and a half carats. After 1880 there was a considerable increase, 
and in 1883, when official returns were first rendered, the quan- 
tity of diamonds produced was 2,319,234 carats. The average 
value of this product was reckoned at 2os. \\d. giving a total 
of ^2,359,466. In 1884 the product was 2,264,786 carats, 
valued at ^2,562,623, showing an average of 23 j. i^d. per 
carat. This was the top notch in market value, for in the 
following year, 1885, the diamonds produced amounted to 
2,287,261 carats, with an average value of only 19^. ^d. per 
carat. In 1886 the production reached the high total of 
3,047, 63 9|- carats, but the demand increased in proportion, so 
that the average selling price was fully is. higher per carat than 
during the previous year. In 1887 and 1888, through the 
increased facilities for production in De Beers and Kimberley 
mines, the total output rose to 3,646,889 carats, and 35565,780! 
carats successively. The average price during these two years 
ranged from iis. 6d. per carat to iis. \\d. but the market was 
flooded, and prices were falling perilously close to the cost of 
production even in the richer mines. There was no assurance 
of any far-sighted regulation of the output and market prices, 
and, lacking this, diamond mining properties were commonly 
reckoned as little better than gambling ventures. It has been 
clearly shown how this disastrous condition was at once changed 
to stable assurance and prosperity by the control of the new 

To the shareholders in the mines, after this reorganization 
was effected, the returns were unprecedented. This profit was 
largely due to the complete control of production, systematic 
operation, and regulation of the output ; but the comparative 
showing was also greatly enhanced by the shrewdness of the 
financiering in the organization, and the withdrawal of inflation 


from the stocks of the various mining properties included in the 
new incorporation and its leased holdings. The capital of De 
Beers Mines before consolidation was "2,009,000. The capital 
of the Central Company was 1,779,650. De Beers stock at 
the time of consolidation was selling at 40 a share, represent- 
ing a capital of 8,036,000. The stock of the Central Com- 
pany, controlling the Kimberley mine, 
was selling at 50 for each 10 share, 
making a total valuation of 8,898,250 
for the mine. At this market estimate 
the valuation of the two great mines was 
17,934,250. The capital of the Du- 
toitspan was approximately 3,500,000, 
and of Bultfontein, 2,000,000 nomi- 
nally, making a gross valuation for the 
four mines of 23,434,250. By consoli- 
Mr. E. R. Tymms, Secretary of dation the capital stock was compressed to 

the London Board, De Beers /> gr O ,OOO, and almost absolute Control 

Consolidated Mines Ltd. f**J>7J ^ f 

of the mining in all four of these great 

properties was secured at an annual charge of about 320,000 for 
interest on debentures and for leases of two companies, one in 
Dutoitspan mine and one in Bultfontein mine. The business 
of the Company grew so rapidly that it was necessary to establish 
transfer as well as general business offices in London. 

In the year 1901 the Company's shares, which had increased 
in value to more than 40 for a $ share, were split up as fol- 
lows : The capital was increased from ^3, 9 50,000 to ^4,500,000. 
The shares were divided into two classes, 800,000 preference 
shares of "2 los. each, which will have a fixed cumulative divi- 
dend at the rate of forty per cent per annum before the deferred 
shares participate, and 1,000,000 deferred shares of "2 IQJ. It 
will be remembered that in the formation of the De Beers 
Consolidated Mines Limited, provision was made for five Life 
Governors, who were to receive twenty-five per cent of the 
profits of the Company after an annual dividend of thirty-six 
per cent had been paid. When the reconstruction took place 
the Company purchased the interests of the Life Governors 
and gave in payment 160,000 deferred shares. 



UST acknowledgment has been made in a former 
chapter of the essential service rendered to the 
diamond mine owners by the device of Mr. 
Edward Jones for underground work beneath 
the fallen reef covering the bottom of the open 
pits. This was, however, confessedly only a 
temporary makeshift, enabling the claim-holders to defray the 
heavy costs of sinking shafts through the hard rock outside the 
craters, and pursuing some systematic plan for the extraction of 
the diamond-bearing breccia by underground workings. Deep- 
shaft sinking was undertaken with renewed heart by several 
companies owning claims in Kimberley and De Beers mines, 
but for some years there was an obvious lack of essential 
cooperation and unity of method. Eight shafts were sunk, or 
were under way, in 1885, within and without the craters, for 
opening De Beers and Kimberley mines, and through these 
shafts the blue ground was extracted by four different methods 
of stoping, none of which was satisfactory. The system insti- 
tuted by the Central Company, the largest operator in Kim- 
berley mine, illustrates sufficiently the inherent defects in all. 
Here galleries fifteen feet wide were driven to the right and 
left of a main tunnel, with pillars fifteen feet thick between 
them. Passages or winzes for broken ground were sunk 
at short intervals to a tunnel below. The ground was stoped to 
the height of fifteen feet above the main tunnel, and then below 
it until the stope reached the next level. The passes became 
filled frequently with large pieces of ground, and had to be 
cleared. Under this system the mine was assuming the shape 



of a section of a gigantic honeycomb cut in two longitudinally, 
the spaces for the honey representing the worked-out part of the 
mine, and the comb, the support for the superincumbent mass 
of debris. After a short period of working, the pillars began to 
show signs of crushing, and the mine was considered too danger- 
ous to allow the men to remain in it. They were withdrawn 
just in time to prevent a disaster, for the whole underground 

The Last of Open Mining, Kimberley Mine. 

works collapsed shortly after the last man had left the mine. 
Fortunately no one was killed. The mine had to be reopened 
from top to bottom, for every underground excavation was filled 
up at the close of the year 1888. 

The errors in engineering were further accentuated, during 
the early stages of underground mining, by the jealous bickering 
of rival owners, which was constantly impeding the progress of 
the workings, and it was seemingly impracticable to agree upon 
any plan securing concert of operation and expert opening of the 





31 FT* BY 31 FT. 

X \ 




800 FT. LEVEL 



mines. At the end of the year 1885, although the need of 
amalgamation of claims was obvious and imperative, there were 
still, as has been noted, ninety-eight separate holdings in the 
four mines. Prior to the consolidation of the holdings in De 
Beers and Kimberley mines, the underground workings were 
prosecuted with the general design of withstanding pressure and 
sliding of the reef by leaving sufficient solid blue ground, in the 
form of " floors " or " roofs," between the series of levels, sup- 
ported by buttresses and pillars of blue ground. Costly experi- 
ence by frequent collapses of the roofs and crushing of the pillars 


proved that the levels were too near one another, and that gal- 
leries driven full size from the offsets were difficult to maintain 
and unsafe for the workmen. 

The heavy expense of sinking vertical shafts and driving 
tunnels through the hard rock surrounding the mine had led to 
the adoption of inclined shafts in order to reach the blue ground 
more quickly ; but, for several reasons, these inclines were not 
adapted for the prosecution of deep underground works. The 
chief defects may be briefly summarized. They were difficult 
to maintain, as they were sunk obliquely through the horizontal 
strata of the shale, which frequently gave way and crushed the 
shaft timbers. Secondly, being inclined to the horizon (De 
Beers 56, and Kimberley Standard Shaft 32) and situated not 
far from the margins of the mines, they soon reached blue ground, 


3 11 

E o 

O 2 

5 i 


and were continued down in this breccia, which must sooner or 
later be mined. Some of these shafts, as at De Beers, had a 
uniform slope from top to bottom, while others, as at Kimberley 
mine, changed to a steeper slope in depth and in one case to 
a vertical shaft. De Beers No. 2 worked well to the depth of 
800 feet, and the Standard shaft, Kimberley mine, was fairly 
serviceable to the depth of 845 feet. The shafts were not sunk 
with the view of putting in proper pumps, and when steam was 
taken into the mines through them, for pumping purposes, the 



1000 FT. LEVEL 


natives had to pass up and down the same shafts by means of 
ladders. As all the inclined shafts were upcasts, the heat was 

When I took charge of De Beers mine, in the year 1887, it 
was worked under what was then known as the Gouldie system, 
which had been copied from the hematite mines of Cumberland, 
and first introduced in the Kimberley mine by Mr. Joseph 
Gouldie, then manager for W. A. Hall, and afterwards mine 
manager of De Beers Mining Company. At De Beers mine an 
inclined shaft had been sunk to the 5OO-foot level, with inter- 
mediate levels 30 feet apart between the 38o-foot and 5OO-foot 


C/3 n 



W i v U : NW ' ' 1- '! - ' - ' '"W I ^ / ' -- *'' ' 






100100 100 900 >00 400 BOO 600 FT. 


100500 100 200 900 400 500 FT. 



The plans on other pages illustrate the manner in which 
the various levels were laid off. Tunnels were driven across the 
crater at De Beers mine from west to east, about 120 feet apart, 
and galleries 18 feet wide and 18 feet high were opened every 36 
feet along the main tunnels, and were worked up to within 12 
feet of the loose ground in the top levels. Pillars of solid blue 
ground 18 feet thick were left between the galleries, but later 
on first the roof and then the pillars were taken out. 

This method of mining was fairly successful for a time ; 
but, as already stated, as depth was attained, the roofs of the 
galleries or rooms became unsafe before the galleries were 
opened through to those on the next level above, and they fre- 
quently gave way, thus making the extraction of the blue ground 
exceedingly difficult. This system was both expensive and 
dangerous. No timber was used except in the main tunnels or 
drifts, the nature of the blue ground being such that the roofs 
and sides of the excavations stood fairly well for a short time, 
provided they were well ventilated. 

In other parts of De Beers mine various companies were 
working or trying to work underground ; but as no regular sys- 
tem of mining could be carried on owing to the irregular shape 
of their holdings, and the more or less temporary methods 
adopted, it was clearly impracticable to devise and carry into 
effect any comprehensive system of operation for the rapid and 
economical handling of the diamond-bearing breccia in the 
craters, until the union of all the claims through the formation 
of one controlling company permitted the installation of a single 
uniform system of mining. 

It has already been narrated how this was effected for 
De Beers mine during the year 1887, by the combination of all 
the holdings in the mine into one company, and the organiza- 
tion of De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited, in March, 1888. 
Kimberley mine came formally into the possession of this great 
corporation on the ist of June, 1889, and controlling interests 
in the other two mines, Dutoitspan and Bultfontein, were also 
secured. The assured control of all the mines and their opera- 


%:"/ : i 

' S<* ' ' ' 

:%&? * 


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tion by De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited enabled its 
directors to institute and conduct successfully a single broadly 
comprehensive plan for extracting the diamond-bearing rock 
and for disposing to the best advantage the total product of 
their mines. 

This system of mining was devised and applied by me 
shortly after my appointment as general manager of the 
De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited, and was based essen- 
tially on a method suggested by the miners themselves and 
without reference to any other system. Instead of attempting 
to withstand, even for a time, the pressure of the superincum- 
bent mass of broken reef, the new system contemplated the 
caving in and filling of the excavations, after the precious blue 
ground had been extracted. 

In order to make the output of diamond-bearing ground as 
great as possible, the levels in De Beers mine were at first 
opened up in the new system according to the following plan : 

When the numerous small tunnels had been driven to the 
margin of the mine, i.e. to the point where they reached the sides 
of the crater, the blue ground was stoped on both sides of and 
above each tunnel until a chamber was formed extending along 
the face of the rock for 100 or more feet, with an average width 
of about 20 feet, and about 20 feet high. The roof of the cham- 
ber or gallery was then blasted down or allowed to break down 
by the pressure of the overlying mass of broken diamond-bear- 
ing ground or debris. I mention diamond-bearing ground here, 
for in the early stages of underground mining there was an 
enormous amount of this ground which had been left behind 
when open mining was discontinued, and had been crushed 
either by the moving sides of the immense opening or by the 
collapse of the underground pillars when mined by the old sys- 
tem. It happened frequently, after breaking through to the 
loose ground above, that clean diamond-bearing ground would 
run down as fast as it was removed for weeks or months at a 
time. The galleries would at times become blocked with large 
pieces of blue ground, which had to be blasted, and then a 


further run of blue ground would follow. When the blue 
ground was worked back toward the centre of the crater, larger 
boulders or fragments of basalt, which had come down through 
the loose reef from the surface, would be met with. This sys- 
tem of working would be continued until reef alone came 
down, the waste or reef removed being sent to the surface by 
itself and dumped on the reef tips ; it formed, however, only an 
inconsiderable proportion (one to four per cent) of the total 
output. It will be remembered that, when the roof caved in, 
the gallery was nearly full of blue ground. By the work which 
followed, only a part of this ground was removed by the men 
working on that level, the miners preferring to take it out on the 
next level below. This process of mining was repeated from 
level to level until finally there was no more loose ground to be 
recovered. The cost of extracting blue ground while loose 
ground existed was very low. 

800 FT, LEVEL 




Now all this has changed, and the plan of opening up new 
levels has altered somewhat, but the system remains the same. 
By referring to the plan, given above, it will be seen that the 


L Novi x s * o a 

\ \ \ - -" 

* *-" 

......-, i v ^%3 

jr , J ^**'*"** J^*ovHoao '.^j-;*^ 1 ?^ . /^k ONIHS**^,'. 



Zl H 01 6 8 i 9 S t S Z \ 0001 




-"' \ 





levels were opened around the east end of the mine. When the 
underground works had reached the depth of 800 feet or more, 
a new danger appeared. It will be borne in mind that the huge 
open mines are filled with debris from the sides, caused by the 
removal of the diamond-bearing ground by open quarrying to 
depths varying from 200 to 500 feet. As the supports were 
removed, the sides caved and filled the open mine. This debris 
was composed of the surface red soil, decomposed basalt, and 
friable shale, which extended from the surface down to a depth 
of about 300 feet. In addition to the debris from the surround- 
ing rocks there were huge masses of "floating shale," resembling 
indurated blue clay more than shale. Large heaps of yellow 
ground and tailings, which the early diggers deposited near the 
margin of the mines, and west-end yellow ground contributed 
to the mud-making material. The black shale which surrounds 
the mines disintegrates rapidly when it falls into them. It con- 
tains a small percentage of carbonaceous matter, and a large 
amount of iron pyrites. When the huge masses of shale fell 
into the open mine, they frequently ignited, either by friction or, 
more probably, by spontaneous combustion, as they have been 
known to do on the reef tips, and burned for months and 
even for years at a time. These masses of burned shale become 
soft clay and form a part of the mixture which fills the open 
crater. This debris moves down as the blue ground is mined 
from underneath it, and becomes mixed with the water which 
flows into the open mine from the surrounding rock and with 
storm water, and forms mud. This overlying mud became a 
menace and danger to the men working in the levels below. 
Frequent mud rushes occurred suddenly, without the least warn- 
ing, and filled up hundreds of feet of tunnels in a few minutes, 
the workmen being sometimes caught in the moving mass. It 
became evident that the method of working shown on the plan 
was dangerous in case a mud rush took place, the men being 
sometimes either shut in or buried in the mud coming from 
the opposite side of the mine. It was decided, therefore, to work 
the mines from one side only, and to have the offsets to the 


rock connected one with the other at as few points as would still 
allow the ventilation of the working faces. The plan illustrated 




in the above figure shows the method which was then adopted 
and is still in use. Kimberley mine is worked on about the 
same general system. 


The method of laying out the workings is also here shown. 
Main tunnels are driven across the crater upon its longer axis, 

and, at right angles from these, small tunnels are driven out 
every 30 feet until they reach the hard rock on the south side of 
the mine. These tunnels are widened, first along the rock until 
they connect one with another, and, at the same time, the roofs, 
or " backs," are stoped up until they are within a few feet of the 









loose ground 
above, thus 
forming long 
galleries, filled 
more or less with 
blue ground, 
upon which the 

men stand when drilling holes in the backs. The working levels 
were at first 30 feet apart vertically, but, for greater economy, 

Method of Sloping, Vertical Section. 



the distance was soon changed to 40 feet. The broken blue 
ground lying in the galleries is taken out, as a rule, before there 
are any signs of the roof giving way. At times this is impos- 
sible, and the roofs cave upon the broken ground, and the blue 
ground is covered with reef. As the roofs cave or are blasted 
down, the blue ground is removed, and the loose reef lying above 
it comes down and fills the gallery. Tunnels are often driven 

Timbering Tunnels. 

through this loose reef, and the blue ground, which has been cut 
off and buried by debris, is taken out ; but it is sometimes left 
for those working the next level below to extract. 

After the first " cut " near the rock is worked out, another 
cut is made, and in this manner the various levels are worked 
back, the upper level in advance of the one below, forming ter- 
races as shown in section on page 320. In De Beers mine there 
are now eleven levels on which work is progressing, commencing 
at the depth of 1280 feet and extending down to the i72O-foot 


Timbered Tunnels at the looo-foot Level, Kimberley Mine. 

level. At Kimberley mine nine levels are being worked, from 
the i84O-foot to the 2i6o-foot level inclusive. The galleries are 
not supported in any way by timbers, but all tunnels in soft blue 

ground are timbered 
with sets of two props 
and a cap of round 
timber, and are cov- 
ered with inch and a 
half lagging. 

Soft blue ground 
is drilled with long 
jumper drills sharp- 
ened at both ends. 
In hard blue ground, 
drills and single-hand 

Natives drilling, De Beers Mine. 

hammers are 

The native workers become very skilful in both methods of 
drilling, and do quite as much work as white men would do 
under similar conditions. 



3 2 3 

The grand winding shafts and plant by which the enormous 
output of diamond-bearing ground is brought to the surface are 
illustrated in accompanying figures. The present working shafts 
are all vertical. De Beers rock shaft was the first large vertical 
shaft of any importance, from the present mining point of view, 
which was sunk in any of the mines. It is 20 feet by 6 feet in 
size inside timbers, and contains four compartments, two for 
skips lifting blue ground, one for a cage for taking men and 
material up and down, and one for pumps and ladderway. A 

Detail of Sets for Rock Shaft. 

balance weight for the cage runs in the pump compartment, 
which is also the downcast shaft through which the whole mine 
is ventilated. 

No. i is the upcast shaft. It has two compartments for 
skips, two for cages, one for pipes, etc., and a double ladderway. 

At Kimberley mine the rock shaft is a duplicate of De Beers 
rock shaft, except that the pump compartment is larger. 

At De Beers, tunnels 1 1 feet wide by 8 feet high have been 
driven from the rock shaft at the 800, 1000, 1200, 1400, and 
iy2O-foot levels, and from No. i shaft at the 380, 800, and 
i4OO-foot levels. 


At Kimberley mine the rock shaft is connected by similar 
tunnels with the mine on the 1000, 1200, 1520, 1840, and 2160- 
foot levels. The present depths (1904) of De Beers shafts are 
2076 feet and 1579 feet respectively, and of Kimberley rock 
shaft 2539 feet. 

Trucks holding 16 cubic feet transport the blue ground in 
the mines from the loading places to the main chutes or passes, 
and from these to the shaft. The trucks are hauled by an 

A Shaft Station. 

endless chain which rests upon V-shaped clips fastened to the 
trucks, the motive power being supplied by engines driven by 
compressed air, carried through pipes from the surface. 1 At the 
shaft there is a large station cut out of the solid rock, some 30 
feet wide, and extending back toward the mine for a distance of 
70 feet to the point where the tunnel (8 by 1 1 feet) commences. 
There is an extension on one end of the shaft for a small cage- 
way to bring up any ground that may spill over the skips while 
being loaded. This prevents delays in the skip hoisting. The 
shaft is also lengthened for a few feet at the pump end, where a 
set of pumps is put in. 

1 See Appendix I. 


3 2 5 

Loading the Trucks. 

As one descends the shaft in the cage in pitch darkness and 
suddenly comes to a large opening brightly lighted with numer- 
ous electric lamps, the scene is weird and confusing. A score of 
natives, half dressed, each vying with the other in shouting his 
own comments upon the visitors as they come forth from the 
cage ; the whirl of heavy iron trucks as they go to and fro ; the 
banging of the tippers as they turn over and deposit the contents 
of the enclosed truck into a chute below, all present a picture 
unique in itself and only to be seen in passing through the shafts 
at De Beers and Kimberley mines. Those who have travelled 
through the native centres, or have seen the negroes loitering 
about the towns, and have thought them lazy, indolent, beer- 
drinking beings, should visit the diamond mines, and especially 
the scene upon the "flat sheet" as described above, and they 
will \get a new impression of the working capacity of these 
despised black men. The natives working in the diamond 

mines, if they are old hands in the service, are uniformly active 
and industrious men, while natives fresh from the kraals are soon 
taught their duties, which they learn to perform with nearly as 
much skill as most European miners. 


3 2 7 













Main Shaft, Kimberley Mine. 

No more rapid handling and extraction of the blue ground 
seems possible than is effected by the aid of these alert workers 
and the perfected mechanical devices. As soon as the loaded 
trucks reach the shaft, they are tipped into loading chutes hold- 
ing six truck-loads (96 cubic feet). As the skip reaches the 
bottom a door is opened, and the contents of the chute run into 
the skip and are hoisted to the surface. Experience has shown 
that the best results are obtained by sending up loaded skips 
from one level at a time. The simple and efficient device early 
adopted in the mines for tipping the loads from the trucks into 
the skip at No. 2 incline of De Beers consisted of an iron 
chute. Four end-tipping trucks were placed close against the 
edge of the chute and the catches loosened. As soon as an 
empty skip was lowered past the chute the trucks were tipped 
and the loads ran into the chutes so rapidly that the engine- 
driver frequently received a signal to hoist before his engine had 
been stopped. The skip in this incline held 64 cubic feet, or 
four truck loads weighing 1600 Ibs. each. 


3 2 9 

The time of the journey through the shaft now varies only 
a little with depth, being from thirty-five to forty seconds from 
the 1 200 or i52o-foot levels. On reaching the surface, the blue 
ground is tipped automatically from the skips into loading boxes. 
The "self-dumping" skips in present use were introduced by 
me in 1888, and were made from drawings supplied by the Union 
Iron Works of San Francisco, and are similar to the skips used 
in the mining districts of the Pacific Coast. (On page 327 
are shown the plans for 
the skip and the manner 
of tipping into the surface 
chutes.) From these chutes 
the blue ground is loaded 
into side -tipping trucks 
holding 20 cubic feet each. 
The average weight of the 
blue ground in a surface 
truck is 2000 pounds. The 
trucks used underground 
hold 1 6 cubic feet, and are 
end-tipping in the inter- 
mediate levels where the 
ground is dumped into 
passes, but have solid ends 
on the main levels where 
revolving tippers are used. The Rock Shaft > De Beers Mine - 

From the depositing surface boxes at the winding shafts, the 
ground is taken by means of an endless wire rope haulage to the 
" floors," where it is treated as described in another chapter. 

Record Hoisting 

With alert and orderly handling of the blue ground in the 
mines, the rapidity of extraction has advanced to extraordinary 
record points. During the month of July, 1889, 142,567 
loads were hoisted through a single shaft in No. 2 incline, 
De Beers mine. The best day's work of 24 hours was 6222 


loads of 1 6 cubic feet, or 4977 short tons. For an hour at 
a time hoisting was carried on at this shaft at the rate of five 
skip-loads every three minutes, or 400 truck-loads an hour, 

lifted from the 7OO-foot level, 
a distance of 840 feet through 
the inclined shaft. The total 
amount of blue ground 
hoisted during the fiscal year 
from April i, 1889, to March 
31, 1890, was 1,355,089 
loads, aggregating 1,084,071 
tons of 2000 pounds. This 
remarkable record was made 
under unfavorable condi- 
tions, because the hoisting en- 
gine was small, nominally of 
70 horse-power, and not de- 


With the construction of new shafts and the setting up of 
engines and fittings of the 
best and latest designs, the 
efficiency of operation was 
greatly increased. Two types 
of winding engines have been 
erected, and it is interesting 
to follow the changes which 
have been made in this por- 
tion of the plant. The first 
large engine erected by the 
De Beers Company was the 
one at De Beers rock shaft. 
Its cylinders were 24 inches 
in diameter, with a stroke of 
5 feet. It had two drums, 
each 4 feet 4^ inches in width 
and 10 feet 6 inches in diam- 




eter, with a grooved tread to prevent friction 
on the rope. This engine was built by well- 
known makers of winding engines, whose 
works are too near the cheap coal centres 
of England. The engine was what is 
called in America a " sawmill engine." 
In the timber districts of America, the 
boilers are fired with slabs cut from the 
round logs in squaring them. Enor- 
mous quantities of these slabs accu- 
mulate about the mills, where they 
must be consumed in some way, or 
carted away at a considerable ex- 
pense. To get rid of the slabs, 
engines that consume the 
greatest amount of steam 
are those most sought after. 
In South Africa, on the contrary, the extraordinary consumption 
of steam was a heavy drawback. Welsh steam coal then cost 
j8 los. ($41.25) per ton of 2000 pounds, delivered at Kim- 
berley, so this "sawmill" engine was converted from two high- 
pressure cylinders to a cross compound, with cylinders of 26 
inches and 40 inches diameter, and the consumption of fuel 
dropped more than 30 per cent. After several years of con- 
stant service, the engine was stopped June n, 1896, the old 
drum and crank shaft, weighing 32 tons, were taken out bodily, 
and a new set, weighing 40 tons, substituted and made ready 
for service in less than 48 hours. With this new outfit there 
was soon a series of record-breaking performances, which are 
given below. 

At the Kimberley mine, the main or rock shaft was started 
on the north side of the mine in March, 1889. In the first year 
this shaft was sunk to the depth of 699 feet, and, in the following 
year, it was pushed to the depth of nearly 1300 feet. The driv- 
ing of the tunnel to the mine from this shaft on the looo-foot 
level showed how exactly vertical was the wall of the crater, 


Winding Engine, Kimberley Mine. 

for the tunnel, at this depth, entered the blue ground 1134 feet 
from the shaft, corresponding almost precisely to the distance 
from the mouth of the shaft to the edge of the melaphyre at the 

depth of 300 feet. For hoisting 
service at this shaft, a winding-en- 
gine plant was especially designed 
by the late Mr. Louis I. Seymour, 
mechanical engineer for De Beers 
Consolidated Mines Limited, and 
constructed by James Simpson & 
Co., of London, England. This 
plant consisted of a pair of vertical 
tandem compound engines driving 
two reels. These engines were de- 
signed to hoist six truck-loads in 
one skip, from the looo-foot level, 
in 45 seconds, including filling, 
Mr. Louis i. Seymour. starting, stopping, and discharging; 



but in practice they pulled up the skip carrying this load 
from the looo-foot level in from 30 to 35 seconds. Flat ropes 
were used, at first, on the reels, but when the shaft was sunk 
some hundreds of feet deeper, round ropes were substituted by 
the adoption of the "Whiting system," first used by Mr. S. B. 
Whiting, general manager of the Calumet and Hecla Copper 
Company of Michigan. The dimensions and description of the 
engines are given in Appendix II. 



The only excuse I can offer for having adopted flat ropes 
for winding is that I was persuaded to do so against my own 
judgment by a number of American engineers, and experience 
proved that I erred in so doing. Leaving all other disadvan- 
tages aside, and they are many, the extra cost of ropes per load 
is sufficient to condemn the flat rope. The average cost per load 
for flat ropes was .6 of a penny against .076 of a penny with the 


present Whiting system, the saving amounting to more than 
^2000 per annum. This system as modified in the diamond 
mines is as follows : The round winding rope, made of the best 
plough steel, extends from the skip over the sheave on the pit- 
head frame down to the reel on the crank shaft of the engine, 
thence four times around this reel and a corresponding reel on a 
lay shaft (centres of shafts being 12 feet apart) ; thence the rope 
passes around an idler sheave, the shaft of which runs on bear- 
ings set upon a movable frame, which is attached at each end to 
a carriage by means of trunnions. The carriage in this case 
runs upon a track 50 feet long. From the idler or tension 
sheave the rope passes around a second reel which is loose 
upon the crank shaft, the centre of which is in line with the 
second sheave upon the pit-head frame. 

By the completion of the new plant the output of blue 
ground from the Kimberley mine was greatly increased. Dur- 
ing the fiscal year ending June 30, 1893, 1,453,152 loads were 
taken from the mine as against 1,310,994 loads, the output 
for fifteen months previous, an increase almost wholly due to 
the new hoisting facilities, for fully three-fourths of the yield 
was drawn through the main shaft. The product of De Beers 
mine for the same year was still greater. The total quantity 
hoisted was 1,637,031 loads, of which 1,403,060 loads were 
drawn through the main or rock shaft, and only 233,971 loads 
through the No. 2 or west end incline shaft. 


Thorough drainage is of manifest importance in the opera- 
tion of any mine, but it is peculiarly essential in these diamond 
mines. At the commencement of underground mining the 
inflowing water was removed by steam pumps. The use of 
such pumps was an error, for the resultant heat and moisture 
caused the blue ground to crumble, and made the ladderways 
so hot that they were at times impassable. 

As soon as the vertical shafts were completed at De Beers 


and Kimberley mines, Cornish pumping plants were put in, by 
means of which all the water is now pumped from the mines. 
The average quantity of water taken from De Beers mine is 
435 g a ll n s an hour, and from Kimberley, 8385 gallons. 
Nearly half of the latter influx comes from a crevice at the junc- 
tion of the quartzite with an intrusive dike of igneous rock 
which was struck while driving the i2OO-foot tunnel at a dis- 
tance of 600 feet from the mine. While no water is found in 
the blue ground or mine itself, that which flows into the mine 
from the surrounding rock mixes, as before described, with the 
debris which has fallen into the worked-out portion of the 
De Beers and Kimberley mines, and makes mud. Enormous 
quantities of this mixture are from time to time forced suddenly 
into the working parts of the mine, which are connected by tun- 
nels with the loose debris. At times hundreds of feet of tunnels 
were filled in a few minutes. Mud rushes became so frequent 
that the working of the mines was seriously interfered with, and 
the loss of life was very great. 

At Kimberley mine, large springs of water flowed into 
the open works at the junction of the melaphyre with the 
shale. Only a small part of the melaphyre was then exposed 
to view, and the position of the other part was unknown. 
A tunnel was started from the Standard shaft, and driven to 
the south around the mine. Another tunnel was started from 
the Harvey shaft and driven to the west end around the mine 
in the opposite direction until the two tunnels met. The 
total length was 2097 feet. Through these tunnels all the 
surface water and all water coming into the mine above the 
melaphyre was taken up and led to the pumps by means of 
pipes. All water which enters the mine in the deeper work- 
ings is taken down in passes, sunk in the rock outside of the 
mine. By these precautions mud rushes have been completely 
stopped in Kimberley mine, and none have occurred for many 
years past. 

De Beers mine has not been so fortunate, and mud rushes 
are of frequent occurrence, although the quantity of water in 


this mine is only about one-half that of the Kimberley mine. 
The following work is being done with the view of preventing 
them. A tunnel is being driven around the mine at the hard 
rock (melaphyre) level, about 380 feet from the surface, in 
order to take up the water which flows into the open mine 
below the shale. Tunnels are also being driven on the 1000- 
foot level on the south and east sides of the mine, which will be 
continued until they meet. Diamond drills are at work making 
holes between levels, with the view of tapping the water. 
Everything feasible will be done to free De Beers mine from the 
plague of water as perfectly as it has been done at Kimberley 
mine. The problems are not the same, however, for in Kim- 
berley mine the debris had followed down as the blue ground 
was extracted, and had left the hard rock more or less exposed 
to view, and one could see in places where the streams of water 
flowed into the open mine ; but in De Beers no hard rock has 
been exposed until lately, and one must grope in the dark, as it 
were, to find out where the water enters the open or worked-out 
portions of the mine. 

The pumping plants for freeing the mines from water have 
kept pace fully with the advance in the hoisting plants. For 
the service of De Beers mine, a new pumping engine was 
erected at the rock shaft in 1889. This is a compound sur- 
face-condensing engine made by James Simpson & Company, 
of London. Its high-pressure cylinder is 14^- inches diam- 
eter, and its low pressure, 21 inches, with a stroke of 30 inches, 
It is capable of developing 1 20 horse-power. With this engine an 
average of nearly 6000 gallons an hour was readily drained from 
the mine from the start, and no difficulty was experienced in lift- 
ing over 8000 gallons an hour at times. The cost of pumping 
is largely offset by using the water drained from the mine for 
washing the pulverized blue ground. By combining this sup- 
ply with that obtained from surface reservoirs, enough water 
was obtained for the use of the concentrating plants, except in 
very dry seasons. For the Kimberley mine a Cornish pumping 
plant of 400 horse-power, from designs by the late Mr. L. I. 


Seymour, was erected in 1891. This is a vertical triple-expan- 
sion condensing engine, with cylinders 15^ inches, 23^ inches, 
and 37 inches in diameter, and a stroke of 36 inches. The gears 
for this engine were made by Fraser & Chalmers, of Chicago, 
Illinois, and the crank shafts by Sir J. Whitworth, of Manches- 
ter, England, but the main constructors were James Simpson 
& Co. Ltd., of London. (See Appendix III.) With this 
plant an average of over 12,000 gallons a day was readily 
pumped from the mine in the first year after its erection, 
and since then there has been no further difficulty in handling 
the influx of water into the workings. 

Compressed Air 

For all underground service in the mines, in driving sinking 
engines, mechanical haulages, rock drills, and any other machin- 
ery where power is necessary, steam has been supplanted by 
compressed air. Electricity has also been used for some of these 
purposes, and is the cheaper and better power for many of the 
uses for which steam and compressed air have been used. 


For lighting, the application of electricity has already proved 
to be almost indispensable. All tunnels and ladderways through- 
out the mines are lighted by electricity. In the stopes and other 
working faces candles are used. Electric lights have been found 
to be of the greatest assistance in enabling the men to get away 
from rushes of mud. These occur at times when some of the 
galleries are " hung up " (to use a miner's expression), which 
means when the tops of some of the galleries are choked with 
huge pieces of blue ground. The roof suddenly gives way from 
the pressure of mud above, and all open lights, such as candles, 
are put out by the force of the concussion of the air, and, were 
it not for the electric lights, the tunnels in the vicinity of the 
mud rush would be in total darkness. 


Other Electric Service 

Electric bells are in use throughout the mines, and have 
very greatly promoted the rapidity of hoisting through the 
shafts. Owing to instantaneous communication between the 
man in charge of loading the skips and the engine-driver, hun- 
dreds of loads more are sent to the surface daily than could 
be forwarded under the old " pull bell " system. For instant 
additional communication between the surface and the under- 
ground work telephones have been installed, and the same rapid 
communication extends to the depositing floors, concentration 
works, and offices of the company. 

Natural Ventilation 

The Kimberley mine is ventilated in a somewhat peculiar 
manner. The rock shafts at both De Beers and Kimberley 
mines are downcast, i.e., the air for ventilation goes down these 
shafts, along the bottom tunnels and thence up through the 
various levels, and it is fortunate for the men working in the 
mine that it is so, for the cool air comes in at the bottom and 
ventilates the mine much better than if the rock shaft drew the 
heated air down through all the lower workings. The upcast 
in Kimberley mine is through the Harvey shaft, the top of 
which is 300 feet below the top of the rock shaft. This shaft, 
with which the various levels of the mine are connected, extends 
down to the I2oo-foot level, and a similar shaft or winze situated 
near it extends from the I2oo-foot to the levels below. As the 
top levels in the mine are the hottest, the current of air ascends 
through the Harvey shaft. The usual direction of air currents 
in mines with two shafts and natural ventilation is down the 
shorter shaft and up the shaft the mouth of which is situated at 
the greater height on the surface. The reverse is the case at 
Kimberley mine. The quantity of air which passes down 
De Beers rock shaft was 33,300 cubic feet per minute until 
1898, when the enlargement of the upcast shaft was completed, 



and the air current was increased to 45,000 cubic feet per 
minute. In the Kimberley mine the influx of air per minute 
is 25,500 cubic feet. 


At De Beers, with temperature of the air on the surface 
79 F., the temperature ranges from 75 to 77 in the tunnels 
leading to the mine on the 1000, 1200, and i4OO-foot levels. 
The temperature of the air as it leaves the mine on the 8oo-foot 
level is 84. The temperature of the mud after a mud rush 
was on one occasion 85 F. Temperatures at Kimberley mine 
in the i2OO-foot tunnel were, for the air, 71. 5; for the rock, 
72.! ; for the large spring of water 7 8. 9 F. The quantity of 
water flowing from this spring, which is about 600 feet from the 
crater, is 3500 gallons an hour. The temperature in the work- 
ing galleries on this level is 87. Springs of water on the 1520 
and 1 840-foot levels gave 83. 8 and 8i -9 respectively, the 
water in the lower level being the cooler. 

The Output of Blue Ground 

The table of statistics (Appendix V) gives the amount of 
blue ground produced from De Beers and Kimberley mines since 
the formation of the De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited. 
In the same table of statistics will be found the average cost 
of production per load. It will be seen that the lowest cost was 
for the year ending June 30, 1894, 6s. 6.%d. per load. This 
includes all charges from the mining of the ground to the 
delivery of the diamonds to the valuators. All mine charges, 
including shaft-sinking, tunnelling, etc., are charged to current 
expenses. It is interesting to note in the same table the great- 
est output of each mine through a single shaft for various 
periods of time. The maximum amount of blue ground pro- 
duced in one year was 1,746,240 loads from De Beers mine for 
the year ending December 31, 1897. This ground was raised 
from a depth of 1000 feet from the beginning of the year until 
June 14, when winding commenced from the i2OO-foot level. 


At Kimberley mine, the maximum output from one shaft was 
1,600,422 loads for the year ending December 31, 1893, hoisted 
from a depth of 1000 feet. These figures do not include the 
waste or "reef" which is taken out, amounting to 100,651 loads 
from De Beers mine and 64,799 loads from Kimberley mine 
during the year. 

During the month of November, 1898, 208,013 loads of 
blue ground equal to 166,410 tons of 2000 pounds, were hoisted 
through the two skip compartments of De Beers rock shaft and 
from a depth of 1 200 feet. The winding stops from Saturday 
night at eleven o'clock until Monday morning at six. The 
average number of loads of blue ground hoisted per houi was 349. 
The average daily output for a full day's work was 8376 loads, 
and for Saturdays 5933. The best day's record was 9790 loads, 
the best week's record was 50,450. In the above records no ac- 
count has been taken of stoppages during working hours nor is 
the quantity of waste, which was 11,992 loads during the month, 
taken into account. Previous to this the best month's produc- 
tion was from De Beers mine, in November, 1897, a total of 
197,173 loads from the I2oo-foot level. In Kimberley mine, 
the best records for a month were in November, 1893, when 
157,847 loads were taken from the looo-foot level, working 
three shifts of eight hours each per day, and 108,627 loads from 
the i2OO-foot level in May, 1895, working twelve hours per day. 

The best week's record from Kimberley mine, winding by 
day only, was 27,418 loads in sixty-nine hours from the 1520- 
foot level for the week ending September 22, 1897. No account 
has been taken of any lost time. 

From the above figures it will be observed that all records 
have been broken for winding ground through a single shaft with 
two skip compartments. 

Labor and Plages 

The following table shows the average number of men 
employed in and about the mines worked by De Beers Consoli- 
dated Mines Limited, during the year ending June 30, 1897 : 



The average number of persons daily employed is as follows :- 
















Above ground 



I8 7 









Above ground 

Grand total . 



5 00 




The average number of white men employed has increased to over 2000 and the num- 
ber of natives to over 11,000. 























South Africans 





European ....... 





Other Nations 










The following figures give about the average wages paid for various kinds of 
labor at the mines : mechanics, ^5 to ^7 per week ; miners, from ^5 to 6 
per week ; guards and tallymen, from ^4 to ^5 per week ; engine-drivers, 6 
to 7 per week ; natives in the underground works, from 3^. to $s. a day. 

Overseers, from ^3 izs. to ^4 zs. ; machine men and assorters, from ^5 
to -6 ; natives (ordinary laborers), ijs. 6d. to 2is. per week; drivers, from 
25-r. to 2js. 6d. per week. Every employe has a percentage on the value of 
diamonds found by himself. On the floors the white employes receive is. 6d. and 
the natives 3^. per carat. Nearly double these amounts are paid for stones found in 
the mines. 


Dutoitspan and Bultfontein Mines 

If operations were not pushed with the like energy and lib- 
erality of outlay in Dutoitspan and Bultfontein mines, it was 
simply because of sound economic considerations, and impedi- 
ments unreasonably placed in the way of projected developments. 
Heavy falls of reef had very greatly damaged the open work- 
ings in Dutoitspan mine before it came into possession of the 

Mount Ararat before Blasting. (Removal of a piece of " Floating Reef," Bultfontein Mine, 1901. 
It was 150 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 120 feet high. 180 holes were drilled in it and charged 
with 1050 pounds of No. i dynamite.) 

De Beers Consolidated Mines. In spite of this obstacle, work 
was carried on actively for a time, until it became certain that no 
profit could be made by working this mine and the continuance 
of operations would have caused great loss directly to the con- 
trolling corporation. If diamonds were like gold and there was 
an unlimited demand for the product, Dutoitspan mine would 
assuredly have been worked as long as it paid expenses and the 
barest margin of profit. But, seeing that the demand for dia- 


monds, or any other precious stones, is practically limited to the 
amount marketable without breaking down the prices dis- 
astrously to the producer as well as to every dealer and cutter, 
work in Dutoitspan mine was suspended at the close of 1889. 
The mine is still idle, but a large shaft was started in 1901 for 
the purpose of working it at some future date. 

Shots Fired. 

Bultfontein mine might have proved more profitable, but in 
1889 an immense fall of reef, covering nearly the whole bottom 
of the mine, made open work impossible, except over a very small 
area. In face of this situation shafts would have been started 
and underground work on a systematic plan prosecuted, had it 
not been for obstacles set in the way by the lessors, the London 
and South African Exploration Company. It was not antici- 
pated that there would be any profit in instituting these costly 


underground works at that time, but the directors of De Beers 
mines desired to furnish employment to miners out of work, 
and the mine would have been opened and explored on a return 
of bare expenses, if the lessors had seen fit to make reasonable 
terms. As their demands were considered exorbitant, work in 
this mine was also stopped in 1889, and was only commenced 

A Second after Firing. 

again in 1900. Plan on p. 333 shows how the mine is being 
opened. There are nearly 13,000,000 loads of blue ground 
in sight above the 6oo-foot level. 

Premier Mine 

In December, 1891, the farm, Benaauwdheidsfontein, adjoin- 
ing Kimberley, and lying on the border line between Griqualand 
West and the Orange Free State, was purchased in full by the De 


tors of De Beers 

; \>\ me':t miners out of work, 

opened a>>w explored on a return 

-r had *it to make reasonable 

red exorbitant, work in 

in iSSo, <m; was only commenced 

Premier Mine looking from Workings up through Incline where the Blue Ground 

is hauled. 

ho\v the mine is being 
o io.uis of blue ground 


Betuauwdheidsfontein, adjoin- 

iinc between Griqualand 

purchased in full by the De 




Beers Consolidated Mines. On this property the Wesselton or 
Premier mine, situate about four miles from the town of Kimber- 
ley (plan at pages 316-317 gives its position relative to the other 
mines), had been discovered in September, 1890, by a Dutchman, 
Fabricius, who was prospecting for an old resident of the dia- 
mond fields, Mr. Henry A. Ward, who had a bond on the Wes- 
sels' estate, or an option to purchase the property for ^175,000 
within a stated period of time. When a man has no money, 

The Mine Filled with Smoke. 

and Ward had little or none at that time, it matters very little 
to him what amount he has to pay for such a property, for he 
does not want the farm unless he finds a payable diamond mine, 
and if he does find a mine, some one else supplies the funds. In 
this case the mine was found, but it was one chance in a million. 
Only a small portion of Wessels' farm was in the Cape Colony, 
and it was upon this portion that the mine was discovered. 

Scores of sanitary pits had been sunk within a stone's throw 
of the mine before the prospector Fabricius sunk a hole at ran- 


dom, without any apparent reason, through ten feet of limestone 
and found yellow ground. It was soon noised about, and the 
mine was rushed and jumped by a crowd from Kimberley and 
Beaconsfield, consisting to a great extent of members of the 
Knights of Labor. Hundreds of claims (30 feet by 30 feet) 
were pegged off, and holes averaging 3 feet by 6 feet were sunk 
all over the place, looking far more like open graves than pros- 
pectors' shafts ; in fact, they proved to be the graves of the 

After the Smoke has cleared away. 

hopes of the reckless jumpers of private property. Many of 
the holes were sunk outside of the area of the present mine. 

Ward had the sole right of prospecting for minerals upon 
this farm, which was held under his agreement with Wessels; 
but for some time the jumpers held their ground regardless of 
its legal ownership, and their contest was the more bumptious 
from the fact that the mine was only a few hundred yards from 
the boundary line between the Colony and the Free State. 
Title to Wessels' farm was originally granted by the Free State. 


By the laws of this State all minerals belong to the owners of 
the farms upon which they are found. In the settlement of the 
boundary line between the Free State and Griqualand West it 
was agreed that the farmers who had held titles to their farms 
under the laws of the Free State should retain the right to any 
minerals that might be found upon them. After months of 
wrangling, Ward's claim was established beyond dispute. Ward 
was without means to continue prospecting, and parted with half 
his rights for ^3,000. When the mine was discovered, De Beers 
Consolidated Mines bought the interest which Ward had sold, 
for which they paid ; 120,000. Ward disputed De Beers owner- 
ship to an undivided one-half interest in the property. The 
case came to trial in the Supreme Court of the Cape Colony, 
the mine having been discovered in that part of the farm lying 
within the Colony. Judgment was given in favor of De Beers, 
and that Company became joint owner with Ward in the prop- 
erty, now called the Premier Mine, named by Ward in honor of 
Rhodes, who was at the time Premier of the Colony, and with 
whom he had conducted most of the negotiation in relation to 
the purchase of the mine and the final disposition of his interest. 
In the meantime Ward had obtained an extension of his 
option for an additional sum of ^1 25,000. The directors of 
De Beers mines were in no way consulted in this matter. The 
time for taking up the option was drawing to a close, and as 
Ward did not have the money to pay for his half, it was mutually 
agreed that De Beers should pay the purchase price of ^300,000, 
Ward becoming responsible for the repayment of his half. 
After considerable negotiation Ward agreed to cede his interest 
in the mine on the following conditions : that he should take 
over the mine for a period of five years, during which time he 
had the right to take out 5,000,000 loads, equal to 4,000,000 
tons of diamond-bearing ground. Diamond-bearing and blue are 
not synonymous terms here, for Ward took out yellow ground 
to the depth of about 60 feet. The mine was surveyed as 
accurately as possible. An allowance of 8 feet in depth was 
made for the surface limestone which covered the mine and 








which was supposed to be 0#-diamond-bearing. It was also 
agreed that a load of ground in place should be 9.6 cubic feet, 
but this was afterward increased to 10.6, as it was found that 
9.6 cubic feet of yellow ground would not make a load when 
broken. From the preliminary washing of ground taken from 
various parts of the mine, it was estimated that the mine would 
yield about 16 carats per hundred loads washed. Ward took 
possession of the mine, and through contractors erected a 
large washing plant capable of washing 4,000 to 5,000 loads 
daily. During the five years Ward mined and washed the 
5,000,000 loads to which he was entitled. The yield was about 
20 carats per 100 loads by means of the first sortings, and pos- 
sibly two or three carats more were obtained by subsequent sort- 
ing, so that the total number of carats obtained reached about 
1,100,000. As to the price realized for these diamonds and the 
cost of producing them, I have no knowledge, but one may 
assume that the average value of the diamonds was about i%s. 
per carat, and that the cost of mining and washing did not 
exceed is. 6d. per load, if it reached that figure. The first 60 
feet were easily mined, as the ground was decomposed and could 
be sent direct to the washing machines from the mine. At the 
present time, under De Beers management, blue ground is mined 
and deposited, harrowed and watered, and then loaded and sent 
to the washing machines for a cost of about is. id. a load. 

From the year 1871, when the four mines at Kimberley 
and the Jagersfontein mine were discovered, a period of twenty- 
one years elapsed during which no paying diamond mine was 
found, although continuous prospecting was carried on. The 
Premier mine was covered for an average depth of eight 
feet with lime, which for the most part was diamond-bearing. 
The formation of the lime seems to have been the result of the 
evaporation of water highly impregnated with lime, or possibly 
springs existed in the localities, whose waters were highly impreg- 
nated with carbonate of lime, which was deposited by the evapo- 
ration of the water. Water, in many of the lime-covered dis- 
tricts, is found very near the surface. On the Wesselton estate 




it shows itself in numerous " fonteins " or springs. Below the 
lime coverlet the diamond-bearing yellow ground extended to a 
depth of sixty feet, where it changed to blue ground. The 
work which had been done proved the area of the mine, and it 
was found to contain about 1162 claims of diamond-bearing 
ground, equal to about 24 acres. 

Under Ward's administration the diamond-bearing ground 
was removed by means of trucks drawn by an endless chain 
haulage, which delivered them at the top of a large washing 
plant, where it was at once treated. 

In January, 1896, Ward's lease expired, and from that time 
work in this mine has been constantly carried on by the 
De Beers Consolidated Mines. An incline with a grade of one 
foot in five was constructed in 1896; the drainage water from 
all parts of the mine was concentrated in a sump, and a pump- 
ing plant erected capable of handling the great influx of water, 
averaging 42,726 gallons an hour in 1896, or about 7,178,000 
gallons a week. At the end of that year the new works were 
so far advanced that 271,777 loads of blue ground had been 
raised. For the economic working of this mine, a complete 
mining and washing plant, with compounds, machine shops, 
stores, and other necessary buildings, was installed soon after 
the mine was turned over to the Company by the lessee. 

The incline mentioned above was made through the marginal 
reef, and down to a depth of 185 feet. At present the diamond- 
bearing blue ground is hauled from the mine by means of an 
endless wire rope haulage (see illustration opposite) driven by an 
engine on the surface. The mine is being worked in sections of 
50 feet in depth. The ground is broken by drilling deep holes 
(12 feet) with jumper drills and blasting with dynamite. The 
average number of loads broken per case of dynamite (50 Ibs. 
net) is 416, equal to 333 tons. The breaking of the ground 
was formerly done by contract, and cost $^d. per load delivered 
upon the " flat-sheets " near the mine end of the wire rope 
haulage. This mining is now done by the Company. Loading 
is done in the mine upon the contract system, by paying the 




'.;>ws if^eif in numtff*. f ' 'i^ins" or sp ngs. Beiow the 

,: ; ie goverlct rhc d -t-n - LIU; yello-A g-,und extended to a 

> ,,, t ;. (( f i; changed blue ground. The 

wh \ -, .: /afe proved the an-a of the mine, and it 

about 1162 chirn- of diamond-bearing 

..4 acres. 

...T.'tiiistrarion rhc diamond-bearing ground 

, of f'icks drawn by an endless chain 

. --iod rhe'n ai the top of a large washing 

! 1 .; . Ward's k.ise expired, and from that time 

Has beer, constantly carried on by the 
,! Minos. An incline with a grade of one 
structed in 1896; the drainage water from 
. ntrned in a sump, and a pump- 
Showing Mine being worked in the Open. The water on the right, represents 

about one million gallons daily, which finds, its way into, the mine, i and,.has were 

to be pumped out. 

r!,.it loal-- 'ilue ground had been 

tu>!v: -soikintj o! ihi= nune, a complete 

'..uhme shops, 
.r s , UK -niied soon after 
. .1 o\-e r > th-. ( o'^'panv bv the lessee. 

;nade tKiough the marginal 

At present the diamond- 

: in - Hie irnne by means of an 

; opposite} driven by an 

i ..-.n ij, worked in sections of 

i ; u!U' jri bv drilling deep holes 

:-s A::- i wit! * dynamite. The 

,kci r ca->e of dynamite (50 Ibs. 

i>reakii;g of the ground 

-,,!;! -.: s'. ! ,/. |ier load delivered 

r 'nine end ->f the wire rope 

- }>\- rh:. Company. Loading 

contract svstem, by paying the 

x- '^ y$ 1^ A. 

/ A )F THE 




Premier Mine, looking up the Incline. 

natives i$s. for 100 loads. The cost of hauling and depositing 
is about 6d. per load. In open mining the natives are paid i$s. 
per 100 loads (80 tons) for loading and delivering to a flat- 
sheet from 100 to 150 feet from the place of loading. On 
the floors, after the ground is pulverized, us. per 100 loads is 
paid for reloading. The ground is treated in the same manner 
as at De Beers and Kimberley mines, which will be described in 
the following chapter. 

There is a large body of floating reef in the mine, which 
measured about 350 feet by 200 feet on the surface, but, at the 
depth of 500 feet, it has been nearly displaced by diamond-bearing 
ground. As already mentioned, these large blocks of floating 
reef are portions of the country rock which have broken loose 


during the time the craters were being filled, and were not 
incorporated in the breccia of which the blue ground is com- 
posed. In some instances the " floating reef," or " islands," is 

One of the Early Washing Machines. 

the same as the amygdaloid rock or melaphyre, which surrounds 
the mines at a depth varying from 300 to 400 feet, but, as a rule, 
somewhat altered. It will be noticed that the aerial gear is not 
used at the Premier mine, and the reason is that for shallow 
depths, or for depths down to 200 feet, inclines, either open cuts 



or shafts inclined to as great an angle as it is practicable for a 
wire rope haulage to work, are more economical. 

Up to the present time the difficulties of falling reefs, which 
caused so much trouble in the other mines, have not yet arisen. 
A belt of blue ground some seventy feet in thickness has been 
left standing in places to support the friable decomposed basalt 
and shale with which the mine is surrounded. This is but a 
temporary remedy, and one which does not recommend itself to 

Washing Plant, Standard Company, Kimberley Mine, 1888. 

the engineer, owing to the value of the ground which is being 
temporarily sacrificed. It is my intention to combine the open 
with the underground system, and to remove the blue ground 
which lies adjacent to the reef in the same manner as it is now 
done in De Beers and Kimberley mines, and at the same time 
to work the remaining portion of the mine in the open, as at 
present, so long as open mining can be safely and economically 
carried on. Owing to the enormous flow of water from the reef 
into the mine (the blue ground itself contains no water), it will 
be necessary to sink a shaft, and to drive tunnels to tap these 
large springs, and lead the water away from the mine. The 




average quantity of water pumped from the mine is about 
40,000 gallons per hour, or more than three times the quantity 
which is pumped from De Beers and Kimberley mines com- 
bined. In order to make use of this water, it is pumped to 
De Beers floors for washing the blue ground, and to the village 
of Kenilworth for irrigation purposes. 

The average yield of diamonds for several years past under 
De Beers management has been three-tenths of a carat per load. 

No. 2 Washing Plant, De Beers Floors. 

The value of the Premier mine diamonds as compared with 
those from De Beers and Kimberley mines is about twenty per 
cent less, owing to the greater proportion of boart and small 
diamonds. The diamonds from this mine show distinctive char- 
acteristics, and a parcel of them can be easily distinguished from 
those produced from other mines. It is estimated that the 
production of this mine could be raised to 1,000,000 carats 
per annum. The mine is being developed for the commence- 
ment of underground mining. Plan on page 318 shows the 
shape and size of the mine on the 5OO-foot level. It is 
estimated that there are 13,000,000 loads, equal to 10,400,- 
ooo tons, of blue ground in sight above this level. The 
Premier mine may, therefore, be looked upon as a mine of 
very great value, and one which will play an important part in 
the future history of the diamond-mining industry. 



Mention has been made previously of the Jagersfontein 
mine. It was the first of the so-called " dry mines " discov- 
ered. The mine is very large, containing 1124 claims. The 
average yield of the ground is about eleven carats per one hun- 
dred loads. The quality of the diamonds far surpasses the 
yield of any other crater. The mine is noted for its large blue- 
white diamonds, and, now and again, an exceptionally large stone 
is found. One stone cut as a brilliant weighs 239 carats and is 
without a flaw. 

Two full-size reproductions are here given of the largest dia- 
mond found in the mine, its weight being 971 carats. For 

many years after their 
discovery, the richer 
mines of Kimberley 
offered greater induce- 
ments to the digger as 
well as to the investor, 
but the fever for con- 
solidation attacked the 
directors of some of the 
principal companies in 
this mine, and the New 
Jagersfontein Mining 
and Exploration Com- 
pany Limited was 
incorporated in 1888, 
about the same time 
as De Beers, and the 
various interests were 
gradually absorbed. 
The mine is still worked in the open, and during the last few 
years has had some difficulty with falls of reef. 1 The reef, from 
the surface down to the depth of about twenty feet, is shale. 

1 See Appendix VI. 

Excelsior Diamond, 971 Carats. (Found in Jagersfontein 
Mine. Actual Size.) 


-r.YEL.LOW -_/ 








The rock underlying the shale is basalt, which extends down to 
the lowest point where the country rock has been exposed, 
i.e. about 250 feet. 

A table of statistics showing the amount of blue ground 
hauled and washed and tfre quantity and value of diamonds 
produced since the formation of the Company will be found 
under Appendix VI. This mine was shut down from Decem- 
ber, 1900, to July, 1902, owing to the war. During this period 
the mine became flooded, and the water was not all removed 
until the end of 1902. 

The plan and section of the mine are given opposite this 

Another View of the Excelsior Diamond. 





I /"\/"\O 







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